Pilchuck Julia Jack

Pilchuk Julia, ca. 1910; Rigby Studios; Courtesy Everett Public Library

~  Mystique and Myths
By Betty Lou Gaeng

What is the attraction that Julia’s face has had for photographers and for those viewing that famous image through the years. Certainly she was not beautiful by the standards set in Hollywood. Rather Julia’s image as captured by numerous photographers suggests character, determination, wisdom, and even royalty. Perhaps that look of royalty is why she has been mislabeled Princess and even Queen by many writers.

From the time of their marriage Julia and her husband Pilchuck Jack lived in a little house along the Pilchuck River in the town of Snohomish. They were both well known to the residents in the area. After Jack’s death in the early 1900s, Julia continued to live there until her own death in 1923. As noted above, she was often photographed and many stories were written about her. Julia was what we call today, a celebrity.Pilchuck Julia, ca. 1910. Rigby Studios. Courtesy Everett Public Library.

In 1993 an original portrait of Julia by western Washington’s photographer Darius Reynaud Kinsey (1869-1945) had the distinction and honor of being offered for auction in the United States at Sotheby’s, the international auction house. Her image has even appeared on post cards. By all standards, Julia’s countenance is the most well-known of all the women of Snohomish County. Possibly that is the reason her mystique has spawned myths.

The most wide-spread and much-quoted myth is Julia’s prediction of the Northwest’s unusual and well-documented winter snow fall which began January 31, 1916 and steadily grew worse during February. There is no doubt that both Julia and her husband Jack being native to the region were knowledgeable about the weather in Puget Sound country, but whether or not she was actually a special weather prognosticator is unknown.

Actually, newspaper articles regarding Julia’s prediction of a winter snow storm two-squaws deep were published early in 1917, the year following the Northwest’s 1916 severe winter snow storm. An example was an article in the Edmonds Tribune-Review, one of several newspapers that carried the story of Pilchuck Julia’s prediction. Published February 2, 1917 and enititled Pilchuck Julia’s Predictions May Come to Pass, the article went on to report as follows:

“Last Saturday evening the betting odds against Pilchuck Julia prophecy of snow this winter “two squaws deep,” was at least 100 to one against the prophetess, but presto, Sunday morning people in the Sound country began to realize that they were in the grip of a blizzard and Pilchuck Julia’s stock began to climb . . .”

Evidently the first of February of 1917 did see a snowfall in the region, but it was not noted as amounting to a major long-lasting snow storm such as the unprecedented one the year before. Through the years, as with many such stories, a mix-up regarding dates has spawned the often quoted myth regarding Julia.

Julia’s age is another unknown fact. Even her death certificate leaves us in a quandary. The facts as given state that Pilchuck Julia Jack, the widow of Pilchuck Jack, died of small-pox on April 24, 1923, and that she was 83 years old, born in 1843—a three-year discrepancy. One of her more famous photographs taken in her later years, proclaims 104 year-old Indian woman. This we can very clearly eliminate since if that were true, she couldn’t possibly have given birth to her son Peter Jack during 1871/1875.

Regarding her birth place, it has been mentioned she was born on the Tulalip Indian Reservation. However, if she was born before the treaty signing in 1855, that can’t be true. There was no reservation then. Julia herself stated she had been present at the signing of the treaty. If her memory was correct, 1840/1843 for her birth seems possible. She would have been old enough to remember the treaty signing, and her age would have been right for the birth of son Peter in the early 1870s.

While researching Julia, I came across an interesting article by Lucius Grant Folsom who had interviewed Julia just before Christmas of 1911. Mr. Folsom titled his article An Hour With a Queen. His opening paragraph states:

“Making blankets of dogs’ hair, birds’ down and mountain goats’ wool is a lost art to Pilchuck Julia, but she knows how to sell fish and sit for photographs. Moreover she takes money for both with equal grace and gratitude. She does not wear a crown of jewels, as has many a queen of less noble blood and less creditable lineage, nor is she a queen without a realm. I have lived by the Pilchuck River always, she says.”

Mr. Folsom described his first meeting with Julia. As she put out her hand to welcome him to her cabin, he noted it was leathery as if from toil and age. When asked about her husband Jack, Julia said he was eight years dead and then held up four fingers on each hand. When it was mentioned that she was queen of the Snohomish Indians, Julia said as if in correction “Pilchuck Jack’s wife.” Tears filled her eyes and she wiped them away using a corner of her plaid shawl as she spoke of her husband Jack.

At the time of this interview, Julia shared her cabin with her daughter-in-law Hattie and Hattie’s five children. Hattie’s husband had been Peter Jack, Julia’s only child. Peter was killed when he fell from a bridge near Snohomish on February 11, 1907 at the approximate age of 32. Julia explained each family member’s contribution to the household. Daughter-in-law Hattie cared for the cabin and for the younger children, two attending school. With much pride she stated that the eldest “Big Boy” Oscar Jack caught salmon, gathered wood, and cared for the garden, and she (Julia) then sold the surplus.

Julia also showed much pride in her other grandchildren: Ivy, Ray, Anna and Pete, and the fact that two were attending school and learning to read and write. She told of how one day they would be able to write letters and stories, farm, keep a store, make a lot of money, and live in a nice house. Clearly, the wish of grandmothers throughout the world—a better life for their grandchildren.

Mr. Folsom related an interesting story told to him of a happening at Christmas time the previous year. Julia’s grandchildren had listened to the tales of the white man’s Christmas and of the forthcoming gifts, and with hopeful expectations they were looking forward to Christmas. With but a few pennies she had hoarded for the occasion and a sack of fish to sell, Julia headed to town.

As Julia walked to town with her sack, she prayed as she had been taught by a missionary priest many years earlier. She prayed that what she had would be enough to buy the food they needed with enough left over for presents for her beloved grandchildren. After selling her fish, she looked over the items in the store and counted on her fingers the cost of each item and her own meager money. While Julia was busy making her few selections, the proprietor of the store chose many items and silently placed them in Julia’s now empty sack. While doing this he looked at the customers in the store, who then began adding to the collection of gifts. When Julia turned to pay for the few items she could afford, she found her sack heavy with toys, picture books, candies, food and clothing. No person could doubt Julia’s surprise and her emotional show of gratitude.

The bag was now so full it was too heavy for Julia to carry and a young man carried it to her cabin. As her wide-eyed grandchildren gathered around their little tree on Christmas Eve and saw the array of gifts, Julia uttered a prayer of thanks.

Even though Julia was a well-known figure in Snohomish, life must have been a day by day struggle for both Peter and Julia, and more so for Julia after the death of her husband. The loss of her son must have left her devastated. Those who knew Julia remembered a cheerful and friendly woman. Many myths surrounded Julia, but there can be no doubt that the love she felt for her family was not one of them.

Julia is buried next to her husband Jack and son Peter at the GAR Cemetery in Snohomish.

Sources:
Certificate of Death for Pilchuck Julia Jack.

Certificate of Death for Peter Jack.

Federal Census Schedules for 1880 and 1910.

Register of Indian Families, Tulalip Indian Agency, 1901 – Tulalip Reservation.

The Tribune-Review, Edmonds, Washington, February 19, 1916 – “Worst Winter Ever Known on Puget Sound.” (Front page)

The Tribune-Review, Edmonds, Washington, February 2, 1917; Editorial by Oscar Grace – “Pilchuck Julia’s Predictions May Come to Pass.”

An Hour With A Queen by Lucius Grant Folsom published in The Overland Monthly, Vol. LX-Second Series, January-June 1913, San Francisco,
© 2010 Betty Lou Gaeng, All Rights Reserved

Missouri Hanna

Missouri Hanna

“Mother of Journalism in Washington State”

By Charles P. LeWarne

Pioneer newspaper publisher Missouri T. B. Hanna (Mrs. M. T. B. Hanna) was born in Galveston, Texas, on February 17, 1857, but grew up in Arkansas. She married J. C. Hanna and they moved with three children to Spokane Falls, Washington Territory, in 1882, but her husband died in an Idaho boating accident five years later. In 1904 she settled in Edmonds and shortly purchased the weekly Edmonds Review which she published for five years, acknowledged as the first woman newspaper publisher in Washington.  For an updated and more fully documented version of this story, please see historylink article.

Hiroko Haji

A True Patiot and Citizen

By Gail Dillaway

Hiro at the posthumous awarding of a diploma to her brother Tom Haji, who was killed in World War II ; Monroe High School March 2, 2009; photo taken by Dan Armstrong.

Hiro Haji was a member of the only Japanese American family living in Monroe, Washington at the time of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. As such, in 1942, she and her family were subject to executive order 9066 issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and were subsequently required to move to Tule Lake, an internment camp in northern California. Hiro was born in the United States but was still subjected to a mandatory move to an internment camp due to her Japanese heritage. Regardless she remained loyal to the United States government and its efforts in World War II. During the war, her family made the ultimate sacrifice of losing her brother, Tom, who had enlisted in the army and fought against Germany. Her story is one of loyalty and patriotism to her government in spite of the limitations applied to her rights of citizenship during World War II.
Hiro Haji was a member of the only Japanese American family living in Monroe, Washington at the time of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. As such, in 1942, she and her family were subject to executive order 9066 issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and were subsequently required to move to Tule Lake, an internment camp in northern California. Hiro was born in the United States but was still subjected to a mandatory move to an internment camp due to her Japanese heritage. Regardless she remained loyal to the United States government and its efforts in World War II. During the war, her family made the ultimate sacrifice of losing her brother, Tom, who had enlisted in the army and fought against Germany. Her story is one of loyalty and patriotism to her government in spite of the limitations applied to her rights of citizenship during World War II.

Hiroko (Hiro) Haji was born in 1923 in the tiny community of Bluestem Washington. Hiro was the second of three children in the family, with an older sister born in 1921 and a brother Tom, born in 1925. Hiro and her siblings were known as Nisei, or second generation Japanese Americans. Hiro’s father Ichimatsu (Nick) Haji and mother Ko Kawata Haji were both born in Japan. Mr. Haji worked for the Great Northern Railroad for much of his life. While living at Bluestem, Hiro attended a two room grade school where each room contained four grades. The classes were small and Hiro helped some of the younger children learn how to read.
In 1933 Mr. Haji was transferred by the railroad to Skykomish where the family was to live for five years. Hiro completed 5th through 9th grade in Skykomish. At Skykomish High School Hiro was freshman class secretary in 1938, active in sports, on the honor roll and was also in the glee club where she sang as an alto. In 1938 the family moved to Monroe where Hiro continued her education. She became involved in many activities. Hiro was remembered for her friendly demeanor, her academic skill and her all-around athletic ability. Upon graduation Hiro was co-valedictorian of her 1941 graduating class.Hiro as student

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, things changed for Hiro and her family. Although Hiro stated that she could not remember any prejudice or racial slurs, even in Monroe there were some who were wary of the Haji family. At the time of the attack, Hiro was attending Business College in Seattle and along with her brother and sister decided not to attend school on December 8th, the day after the attack. Hiro was reluctant to go to Business College on Monday morning as well, but with the encouragement of the people with whom she boarded and the President of the college, she tried to continue her studies. However the signing of executive order 9066 by President Roosevelt resulted in Hiro‘s forced migration to Tule Lake in Northern California where she and her family joined 18,000 other Japanese Americans from northern California and the Northwest. Barbed wire fences constrained the internees from venturing outside the 40,000 acre camp. Armed guards in towers and on the ground outside the fence had instructions to shoot anyone who tried to escape. Each family was assigned a space in a barracks type building usually just one room about 400 square feet in size. The only furniture provided was army cots for sleeping. Their bathrooms and showers were in a central building and their meals were eaten in a central mess hall. In spite of the severe living conditions, Hiro was able to work as a bookkeeper until June of 1943 when the Haji family was allowed to leave the camp in recognition of their loyalty and good citizenship. Great Northern had a job waiting for Mr. Haji and the entire family moved to Spokane.

Hiro remained in Spokane for several months, staying at a hotel with her mother while she tried to figure out what to do next. She finally took the train to Ft. Snelling, Minnesota, where the Army had a language school. Ft. Snelling was a top security clearance facility where the Army trained soldiers who were becoming interpreters and analysts in the Pacific. Hiro became an administrative assistant here, involving herself in service to her country. She continued in this position until late 1945 when she learned that her brother, Tom, was missing in action and later declared dead at the hands of the Germans.

She left Ft. Snelling at this point, travelling by train to Spokane. Eventually moving to Oregon she married Mr. Ishida who had served in the all Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team during the war with her brother, Tom. She nursed her injured husband back to health but the marriage eventually ended. Hiro never remarried. She was able to secure a job working for the legislature as an executive assistant in Salem, Oregon where she had responsibility for the drafting and passage of legislation. She continued working in the public sector until her retirement.

On March 2, 2009 Hiro Haji Ishida received the posthumous presentation of a diploma from Monroe High School to her brother Tom Haji, who had only been a junior in high school at the time of the family’s internment. Speaking at the ceremony she said “This brings back a lot of memories”, as she clutched her brother’s diploma “It’s so nice so many of his friends remember him.” As a junior, Tom Haji had been on his way to joining his sister, Hiro, as valedictorian of his class at Monroe High School. Hiro commented that from the moment the Haji family arrived in Monroe, they were made to feel welcome. After the ceremony, Hiro was greeted with open arms by the mother of a fellow student. What made this act of kindness even more extraordinary was the fact that this mother’s son had been killed while fighting against the Japanese in the Pacific. Hiro’s positive attitude and gratitude to her country and community continued until her death. She felt that her family was judged in Monroe on their merits and not on their race. She even went so far as to say that Monroe, unlike Seattle, was supportive in spite of the anti-Japanese sentiment of the day.
Hiroko Haji died in November of 2012. She left a sizeable bequeath to the Monroe Historical Society to sustain and invigorate the museum but also to promote good will in the community and to make Monroe a better place to live for minorities. Hiro Haji remained to her death, one of Monroe’s most loyal supporters. She loved her family, her community and her country. In spite of the politics of war, she had absolute appreciation for the people of Monroe who supported her family during the 1940’s and welcomed her back cordially after the war.

Sources:

Hiro Haji. photo. 2009. By Dan Armstrong.
Keary, Polly. “Not Forgotten.” Monroe Monitor 31 Mar. 2009. Print.
Parry, Tom. Tom Haji. Monroe, 2008. Print.
Gail Dillaway interview with Tom Parry. October, 2014.
Monroe High School Yearbook. photo (1941).
© Gail Dillaway 2014 All Rights Reserved; WLP Story # 77

Electa Friday

by Sandy Schumacher

Electa Rossman Friday will ever be linked with the story of this community’s progress’ stated the Illustrated History of Skagit and Snohomish Counties, yet considering the impact she had on the medical community of this county, her name could certainly be referenced as the ‘missing link’.

Electa Friday, Courtesy of the Everett Public Library Northwest Room

Electa Friday spent her life serving the community by opening the first training school for nurses, and later opened and managed the new Everett Hospital built in 1904. Hers is definitely a name to be remembered in any study of the medical establishment of Snohomish County.
After finishing her education at Hahnemann Medical College in Chicago in 1878, Electa Rossman returned home to Hartford Wisconsin where she resumed life in the upper Midwest approximately thirty miles northwest of Milwaukee. Her father and uncle had settled in Hartford Wisconsin prior to statehood and started the Rossman’s Saw Mill along the scenic Rubicon River in the 1840’s. Electa’s parents were both born in New York State, but like many easterners of the 1840s, moved to settle the upper Midwest as it was crossing from Territorial into Statehood status

It may have been her mother’s story about her own relocation that encouraged Electa to move west, or it may be that after her marriage the northwest held the same promises to her and her husband as the Wisconsin Territory did for her parents forty-five years earlier. She married Henry Friday in Hartford Wisconsin in 1884, a young man reared on a farm in Hartford. After they were married he went to work for the railroad, which ultimately brought him to the west coast on business and over time the opportunities of pioneering in the northwest were apparent. When the Fridays arrived in Everett in 1893, he began a lifelong career buying and selling real estate. Coming to Everett seemed appropriate since two Friday brothers and their families had settled on the peninsula as early as 1890 and were a part of the city’s initial development.

Prior to the arrival of Mrs. Friday, the Articles of Incorporation of the new Everett Hospital stipulated that the eight men who were named as Trustees would elect twenty-five women to manage the running of the hospital. Construction began in August of 1893 in the 3300 block of Broadway and the first patient admitted in January 1894. In 1897 Electa Friday was appointed Superintendent and General Manager also known as the ‘matron’ of Everett Hospital and it was not long before she began the first training school for nurses. She served the community in this position until 1900 when she resigned. In 1904, while the Board of Trustees was deliberating on the poor financial status of the hospital, Mrs. Friday presented them with a proposal to develop a private hospital in the 3500 block of Hoyt Avenue, which was accepted and the existing hospital was sold. Mrs. Friday returned and resumed management of the Everett Hospital for four months pending the construction of her new hospital in the 3500 block of Hoyt Avenue.

Electra Friday on the right with nurses in the hospital. Courtesy of the Everett Public Library Northwest Room

On October 6, 1904 The Everett Herald announced that the recent opening reception of the new Everett Hospital had been declared the ‘social success of the week’. Mrs. Friday proudly received guests in the reception hall surrounded by palms, while nurses conducted tours of the new facility.

The new Everett Hospital contained a general hospital with maternity ward and a school of nursing as well as an area to treat special cases. Mrs. Friday took on the additional responsibility of Deputy Sheriff which was necessary by ‘reason of her caring for certain classes of patients at the hospital’, so states the writer of the Illustrated History of Skagit and Snohomish Counties, 1906, [pp 914-15.]

The first Everett Hospital on Broadway, 1902. Courtesy of the Everett Public Library Northwest Room

Electa Rossman Friday died at age sixty on April 21, 1916 having forever left her mark on the hospital business and education of nurses in Snohomish County. Her obituary refers to her as a ‘pioneer resident and well-known Nurse’, an overly simplistic description of a woman whose life in the service of others made a significant impact here and improved the operation of the Everett Hospital. It was she who changed the hospital management style from a twenty-five person management team that lacked both leadership and financial training to a hospital model that was structured and run as a business.

She was praised in her obituary as the person who ‘developed the institution to its present high standing’ while living a life that others could aspire to. But her life’s story lay there, waiting to be rediscovered and shared. A link no longer missing, but found, valued and placed in its rightful home among the great leaders in Human Services during the development of Snohomish County.

© 2006 Sandra Schumacher All Rights Reserved;  WLP Story Number 37 ~

Jean Bedal Fish

Jean Bedal, July 23, 1986 when Jean and Edith were teaching at David Cameron’s week-long class on the history of Monte Cristo, held at Monte Cristo. Photograph Courtesy Louise Lindgren, 1986.

~ Elder of the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe

By Louise Lindgren

Jean Bedal Fish, elder of the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe, was dedicated to the preservation of her Native American culture. Her legacy included not only the recognition of her mother’s tribe, but its written history as well.
Jean was the daughter homesteader James Bedal and Susan Wa-wet-kin, only daughter of Sauk Chief John Wa-wet-kin. Born in 1907 in the cedar cabin Bedal built on his homestead, Fish entered a world dominated by towering trees, the Sauk river, and rain. The sounds of two languages entered her consciousness from the cradle. One language, English, could be written – the other, Lushootseed, remained only sounds, with no written record.
The Bedal children attended school on their own homestead southeast of Darrington and in Fish’s words, “eighteen miles from nowhere.” Learning to read and write in English was important, but after school she followed her mother’s instructions, given in the Sauk language and by example. Her father voiced no displeasure at the arrangement as long as his children kept up their English studies.
Jean Bedal’s first teacher was a lonely lady who found her surroundings highly disagreeable. She stayed only one term, but in that time made a lasting impression on the girl. When a sewing assignment, a doll’s dress, turned out badly, the angry teacher threw it in the fire. This prompted a strong parental protest and words that were a prophetic compliment, “Our Jeannie doesn’t need to be taught how to sew – she learns by observation!”

And observe she did – the changing of the seasons, the growth of forest plants and animals, the handling of her family’s horses, fishing, and the great shake bolt drives down the river. She observed her mother’s habits and housework, the cooking of fish on camping trips, and making fried bread. She observed her new and favorite teacher, a vibrant Dutch lass named Edith Froom, who taught by example and even instructed her students in the fine art of swimming in the river on the way home from school. And, she listened as the teacher read novels to her charges as a reward for work well done.
In 1916, life changed dramatically. James Bedal was stricken with a paralyzing stroke, ending his work as a shingle bolt producer. Survival was tough, and the family moved to the town of Darrington where the children enrolled in the much larger school there. Although their school had only “white” children, they at times had contact with Indian friends and relatives, staying overnight on special occasions.

One Christmas gathering was memorable for the drama that began at 3:00 a.m. A man rushed in shouting, “Pray, pray – the river is coming!” The Sauk river had become a raging torrent in full flood. For three days people listened to the deep earthshaking rumble of huge boulders under the water. Catholic prayers of her Sauk relatives were spoken in a language new to Jean – the Chelan dialect used by the traveling priests — more learning by observation for a young girl pacing the rain-sodden riverbank.

In a few years, another language was added to her mental storehouse. Her high school principal was a Catholic and tutored her in Latin, a language that Jean Bedal Fish could speak even in her elder years.

Jean and Edith with their packhorses at the Penn Mining Co. office at Monte Cristo, circa 1930

James Bedal’s illness eventually caused such hardship in the family that the young woman felt the need to stay and help on the original homestead two long hard winters. That put her behind one year for graduation and another year before she had the opportunity to go to college in Bellingham for a quarter of teacher training. Money for tuition came from her small savings earned doing work unusual for women of the time — working for the Forest Service, checking on hikers who passed the homestead on their way into a restricted logging area.
Even more unusual, both she and her sister Edith were excellent horse-packers and guides. Interviewed in her elder years, Jean Fish remembered, “I guess I was about six or seven years old. There was [my Dad’s] horse by the name of Pete, … a wonderful horse. So I used to sneak to the barn and had a hard time putting the saddle on – it was heavy. And then I tried to tighten the strap, and the horse would just blow his belly up every time. But I led him to a log to get on him and rode maybe a quarter mile and back again.”
At age 13, Jean led two attorneys into the mountains as a solo guide trip. A few years later she was lone packer on a 50 mile round trip to both White and Indian passes. That trip included dealing with a mean horse after spending the night at the pass and tracking down horses who had wandered off in the middle of the night. After delivering the family safely to the railway station in fading light, she returned to the homestead in the dark.

Jean Bedal on the right, circa 1930?

Another skill, also learned by observation and practice, was put to use for the rest of her life – cooking. She cooked for family, Forest Service workers, and beginning in 1929, guests at the hotel in Monte Cristo. In 1932, she married Russell Fish, son of the proprietor.
When the hotel closed in 1941 and her husband went off to war, she moved to Quinault and then Seattle, cooking for the Y.M.C.A., until an exploding gas range seriously injured her. After a slow recovery, she cooked for hundreds of war workers at Pier 90. When her husband returned from war they spent a number of years in Hoquiam, then returned to Monte Cristo to manage the lodge there before separating in 1956.
Two years of study at Edison Technical School in Seattle helped prepare Jean Fish for the important challenge that would follow. She had begun working with her sister, Edith, on the job of proving the enrollment and status of the Sauk Tribe, which never had been recognized by the U.S. government. For many years, they and others continued the work, and in 1972 Jean Fish finally stopped cooking in order to work even more on the tribe’s recognition. On September 17, 1975 the tribe received formal recognition as the “Sauk-Suiattle.” The dual name was not traditional, but was written in by a lawyer who connected the area of the nearby Suiattle River with the Sauk Indians. During the late ‘70s and ‘80s Fish worked for the tribe and served on the Tribal Council. From 1979 to 1983 she was Tribal Chairman, the equivalent position of being the President of the United States, and with a similar structure of government to administer.
Jean and her sister Edith then began the important work of writing their tribe’s un-written language and history. Jean finished Glimpses of the Past, which is now part of a larger work including the writings of both sisters, Two Voices: A History of the Sauk and Suiattle People and Sauk Country Experiences, edited by Astrida Blukis Onat.
From a dual-culture upbringing, through experiences of the wider world, to the homecoming of a tribe complete and recognized in a many-cultured country, Jean Bedal Fish saw and experienced it all.

Sources:
1. Interview with Jean Fish by Louise Lindgren, February 20, 1990
2. Jean Bedal Fish and Edith Bedal, with editorial assistance by Astrida R. Blukis Onat, Two Voices: A History of the Sauk and Suiattle People and Sauk Country Experiences, privately published for the Memorial Pow-Wow of June 9, 2000
See also the biographical article about James Bedal and Jean’s sister Edith in the Skagit River Journal of History & Folklore.

Revised and edited from a Third Age News (now Senior Source) Article published April 1991

© 2007 Louise Lindgren All Rights Reserved

Myrtle Ferrell ~

Children’s Advocate and Community Leader

By Margaret Riddle

Myrtle Jane Brannon Ferrell arrived in Everett as a young bride in 1931, one of the darkest years of the Great Depression. Banks were failing, unemployment was high and government relief programs had yet to be initiated. Communities depended on dedicated volunteers to give aid and Myrtle—recently married to Everett physician Lewis J. Ferrell—decided to help. Myrtle volunteered with the Red Cross. Thus began 44 years of community service that included work with the Snohomish County Visiting Nurses’ Association, attending a White House conference on children and youth, teaching Sunday School at Trinity Episcopal Church and significant work with the Everett chapter of the American Association of University Women. Myrtle also served on the Everett School Board for more than twenty years. In 1953 the Everett Business and Professional Women’s Organization honored her as “Woman of the Year in Achievement.”

Born in 1899 and raised in Chicago, Myrtle was the second of nine children born to Charles and Bertha Brannon. By the 1920 census, the Brannons were living in Valley, King County, Washington. That same year census counters found Myrtle also boarding in Lewis County, perhaps as she began her studies at Central Washington State College. Myrtle completed her bachelor’s degree at University of Washington with a major in Sociology. She taught school for a few years after graduation, then enrolled at the University of Chicago where she earned a master’s degree in medical and psychiatric social work. Here she met and married Lewis J. Ferrell. Perhaps family ties brought Myrtle back to the Northwest and Lewis began his medical practice, a Women’s and Children’s Clinic, in Everett’s Medical Dental Building.
Had Myrtle wanted to teach in Everett, she couldn’t have. Married women were not allowed to be teachers until after WWII. While there were certainly exceptions to this rule, Myrtle instead used her skills in volunteer efforts and, after her sons were grown, became her husband’s business manager and partner, a position typical of other husband/wife professionals at the time.

Myrtle worked continually for children’s causes and was chosen to attend a White House conference on children and youth as well as being appointed by the State Superintendant of Public Instruction to a special committee on disadvantaged and gifted children. But nowhere was her love for children more evident than toward the Ferrells own two sons, Philip and Barry. Myrtle balanced her time between family and volunteer work. Phil recollects times when his parents entertained he and his brother by staging “Mom and Dad Shows”, Myrtle and Lewis playing the parts of personalities like Alberto Roselini and Ingrid Bergman. Lewis created stories for the boys, one particular series was with Ezra, a mouse with an electric tail. Phil and Barry remember their home life as joyful and creative. When Barry was a Cub Scout, Myrtle served as den mother for five years. When the boys met at the Ferrell’s home, she would frequently bake them fresh bread.

wlpAAUWSwanderReevesCookFerrell-1954
AAUW members Swander, Reeves, Cook, and Ferrell plan tea at the Ferrell home in 1954. Myrtle is pictured on right.

wlpMyrtleFerrell_sculpture

But the AAUW was a steady and continuing part of Myrtle’s life. She had been the chapter’s founder in 1940, served as its president for three years and remained active in the group until her death in 1975.

Here Myrtle joined other women in working for important issues of the day. Myrtle put it this way: “AAUW is the greatest organization I know. It gives you an opportunity to keep up on local, state and national and international affairs.”
The Ferrell’s often opened their Rucker Hill home for AAUW meetings and teas. Myrtle’s leadership ability led her to the position of State Division President and Vice President of the North Pacific Regional AAUW in 1949, the year Seattle hostessed the National AAUW Convention. Over the years Myrtle held many offices with AAUW, attended the group’s International Federation Conference and in 1967 was appointed to a topic implementation committee for “Politics of Public Education”, representing the Everett chapter at a national level. This position took her to Washington D.C. in January of 1967.

In 1942 Myrtle established an AAUW fellowship fund for promising young women. The national AAUW had begun the program to aid young women in their scholarly pursuits. Local chapters raised funds for scholarships and administered the giving in their own communities. Myrtle became one of the group’s most active fundraisers.
In the 1950s Myrtle Ferrell made an unsuccessful try for a house seat in the Washington State legislature but local politics turned out to be her place. In 1950 she ran for the Everett School District Board and easily won. She remained on the board until shortly before her death, serving four terms as board president. Through the ‘50s and ‘60s new schools were built and enrollment expanded. There was no strong local teacher’s union then and board members were sought for advice.

But by the early 1970s the economy was in recession, unemployment was high and school enrollment was declining, especially in the north and central neighborhoods. In a cost-cutting move, Washington Elementary was closed. In both 1971 and 1972 the district lost its spring special levy elections. The board was faced with crisis decisions and the newly-formed teacher’s union, Everett Federation of Teachers #772, struggled with the board over issues including a pending layoff of 200 teachers.

Now in advancing years and declining health, Myrtle decided not to run for re-election in 1973. But she was persuaded to run—most likely a disservice to her—and was defeated by Robert Daoust, a candidate with teacher union support.

Remembering Myrtle Ferrell

Lewis died unexpectedly in January of 1975. The couple had been close partners for 44 years. An ailing Myrtle soon was moved to Bethany Home where she died of a stroke in August that same year, three months before her 76th birthday. When asked what he remembers most about his mother, Barry mentions that she was a woman of strong Christian faith. Myrtle clearly did not preach to others but instead believed in living her life as a good example. Her death was a great loss to the family.
AAUW friends also grieved and a committee was formed to decide on a fitting memorial to honor their founding mother. Proposals were made to have a park named after the Ferrells or the swim center at Forest Park or a school named for Myrtle. All suggestions were rejected. Artist Carol Hasford was commissioned to create a sculpture which officially was placed in front of the Everett Public Library in 1977. A few years later the sculpture was vandalized beyond repair and not replaced.

At the time of this writing, the only public tribute that remains is a photo of Myrtle that hangs in the children’s room at the library. As the written word often outlasts other memorials, it is hoped this piece and other writings contributed by her friends and journalists over the years—assembled and carefully ordered in the excellent scrapbooks of Everett’s AAUW—will continue to tell of Myrtle Ferrell’s legacy.

Sources:
Georgette Cook, “Humanitarian”, Letter to the Editor, Everett Daily Herald, August 20, 1975; “Mrs. Lewis Ferrell Named ’53 Woman of Achievement,” Ibid., April 14, 1953; AAUW scrapbooks, particularly a notebook assembled by Kandace Aksness of events and news stories relating to Myrtle Ferrell; phone conversation with friends Jean Spencer, Gwen Anstis and Lee Ruck, December 28 and 30, 2008; email conversation with David Cameron who consulted Labor Journal notes regarding the 1970s teacher’s union activities; phone conversations with Philip and Barry Ferrell, January 29 and 30, 2009
© 2008 Margaret Riddle, All Rights Reserved

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.

Sources:
Death Records < http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov >
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;//web1.seattle.gov >

© 2010 Betty Lou Gaeng, All Rights Reserved

Marjorie Duryee – Everett author and artist

by Margaret Riddle

Artist, writer, photographer and world traveler Marjorie Ann Duryee kept journals during most of her adult life and wrote her own biographical sketch in 1972. Born on July 18, 1913, she was the second child of Dan and Clotilde Robinson Duryee, when the family lived at 1316 Hoyt in Everett. Sister Clotilde was the first born, with brother Dan, Jr. arriving in 1916. The Duryees were prominent Everett residents from its beginnings in 1892. Although the Duryee parents were a quiet couple, they raised their children to be free spirits and, as family remembers, each sibling’s personality was enough to “fill a room.” Clotilde was expected to dress and behave like a lady, but Marjorie was given more freedom since she was a sickly child and, under advice from their uncle Dr. Albert Duryee, she spent lots of time outdoors. She soon excelled at various sports.
In 1918 the family moved to 501 Laurel Drive in Everett. Writing about the family’s early years in this Rucker Hill home, Marjorie recalled Monday wash days—the hand-crank wringer, the bluing used to brighten white clothes, the starching and the gas stove. At this time, the Duryee’s extended family numbered eight. Marjorie attended Jackson Grade School, North Junior High and graduated from Everett High School with the class of 1930. Two of her classmates were the future Senator Henry M. Jackson and film and stage star Nancy Coleman. Both remained her lifelong friends. Marjorie Duryee
While the 1930s Great Depression was hard on young dreamers and many had to put their plans on hold, the Duryee family had the means to pay for Marjorie’s freshman year at Mills College in California. She transferred to the University of Washington and graduated in 1934 with a B.A. in English Literature. A “horrible fifth year”, as she described it, gave her a teaching diploma. From 1935 to 1937 she taught English, World History and Physical Education (one year) at Arlington High School. But she was bored and wrote in her journals that she had hoped to be away from Everett at this point in her life. A trip to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1934 had given her a taste of the life she wanted. In her words, “I saw the paintings exhibit at the fair and have never been the same since.” They inspired her to become an artist.
Marjorie spent 1937-38 in Europe studying at the Institute of International Studies in Geneva, skiing in Austria, visiting a Paris Expo and, on Christmas Eve 1937, she bought her first camera — a Leica. But Europe was in turmoil and in 1938 Marjorie was residing at the Halfmoon Chambers flat in Newcastle, England, worried about the situation with Hitler. She set sail for home on October 19, traveling out of Liverpool aboard the Aquitania.
Marjorie Duryee, Photographer Photography changed Marjorie’s life and she set out to become a professional photographer. She joined the local Camera Club in 1939 and won a Washington Salon Exhibit Grand Award that year. To further her career, she needed an agent, so she hired Monkmeyer Studio of New York who began marketing her photos to magazines. In the following years, she won many awards at regional and national shows, her work done in both black and white and color transparency.
By the early ‘40s she had three passions, photography, tennis and golf. She continued to take pictures, printing them in her own home darkroom and in 1942 was on the Ladies Handicap Golf Committee. Marjorie was listed in Who’s Who in American Pictorial Photographers in 1942-43.

American Red Cross

It is clear from Marjorie’s journals that one of her happiest times was working as a journalist for the American Red Cross during World War II. This was her chance to combine writing, photography and travel. She served as editor of the ARC magazine Boomerang which, over its lifetime, would have five homes and five editors, including Marjorie Duryee, who worked with the publication beginning in Brisbane in October of 1944 and moving to Hollandia (Netherlands E. Indies) then to New Guinea, Manila and finally Tokyo in 1946. During this period, she photographed extensively and assembled her best views in scrapbooks. For security reasons, Marjorie often was not allowed to take photos so she began to draw the scenes instead. When the war ended, she returned to Everett to visit and then went to New York City to study at the Art Students League.

The Painting Years

She returned to Everett in 1947 to attend her father’s funeral and it was at this time that she met Whidbey Island painters Peter and Margaret Camfferman and began to seriously study painting. The Camffermans were highly respected regional artists and teachers. Through them, Marjorie’s talents and contacts grew. From 1948-49 she again lived in New York City, meeting lots of interesting writers and artists yet keeping in touch with old Red Cross contacts and her Everett and UW friends.

Bringing it all together

Marjorie attended Robert Frost’s Breadloaf Writers Conference in Vermont in 1950 and the following year drove across country to study art at the Jerry Farnsworth School in Saratoga, Florida. Back in Puget Sound, she attended Theodore Roethke’s writing class at UW and in 1952 was able to meet Dylan Thomas who came to read on campus. Marjorie was awed by Roethke and wrote about hearing Dylan Thomas’s performance. She sat very close to the front, heard his muscular intonations and saw how he swayed, vibrating from head to foot while he read—every word seemed an echo.
Monkmeyer Studio continued to market her photos. One of special importance to the family was published in the November issue of Today’s Health in 1952—a photo of newly-born niece Margaret Duryee, at the hospital meeting her older sister Maureen, their happy parents watching. Boat trips, family outings and other personal events became subjects for Marjorie’s photos during this time and she was able to publish them in various magazines.

Marjorie presented a solo show at the Vera Tenney Art Studio, Everett, in December of 1951. The following year, she displayed photos in the Baltimore Salon of Photographs, then took a freighter trip through the Panama Canal to Madrid on what she dubbed a “slow boat to France”. The Everett Herald published a feature on her trip on Nov. 27, 1952 as an introduction to a travel series of 72 articles that Marjorie would write for the Herald during a 10 ½ month stay in Spain. During this time, she continued taking photos which she exhibited through the 1950s.

Actress Nancy Coleman had married critic Whitney Bolton and the couple moved permanently to Long Island, NY. The Colemans visited Marjorie in 1954 when she was living in a cabin she had built by hand at Priest Point (Tulalip). Following the visit, Whitney wrote a piece about Marjorie and her achievements. Marjorie spent the second half of that year in Spain, taking more photos. She continued to show her Madrid photos, some as slide shows in 1957. That year her mother died, followed by the death of Peter Camfferman. Marjorie sold her beach cabin in 1959 and bought the Duryee family home at 501 Laurel Drive. At home again in Everett, Marjorie began a series of shows at Cuthbertson’s Little Gallery at 2936 Colby where gallery owner Tom Johnson gave her wall space to use as she liked. Her first show was Oct. 1960 and she continued to exhibit there, showing paintings, watercolors and photos.

The gift of a bicycle from niece Maureen led Marjorie to taking photos of her hometown. These remain in the family collection. But the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962 inspired her. She made an entry in her 1962 journal that reads: “Marge, don’t you play golf anymore?” She answered herself, “No, not since the Seattle World’s Fair and seeing the painting exhibit there. It made me want to stay home and paint!!” And paint she did, by the following year exhibiting 14 monoprints and collages.

In 1963 she wrote the first of 9 self-published books of poems in a series she called the Image Collector. When Margaret Camfferman died the following year, Marjorie handled her estate. Margaret was included in a traveling exhibit celebrating Washington Women Painters in 2005 and Marjorie’s journal entries and art collection contributed to the exhibit.

Shifting exclusively to using color film, Marjorie abandoned her own darkroom processing. This gave her more time to paint. She exhibited at Black and King in Everett, won more exhibits and prizes in 1965, received a royalty check from Monkmeyer Studio for her photos taken in Spain and in 1967 had a one-person show at the Monroe Fair where she received special recognition for her work, judges noting the “excitement inherent in her color and content.” Marjorie continued showing at local and regional galleries throughout the 1970s, published Image Collector 9 in 1972, traveled to England for the wedding of her niece Maureen in 1976, then stayed in Oxford and London the following year.

Sadly by the 1980s Marjorie was showing signs of Alzheimer’s. Her last art show took place in fall of 1986 at the Snohomish County Arts Council Gallery in Everett, a collection of her paintings, poetry and photos, including her Everett waterfront series. Marjorie Duryee died in 1992 at Merry Haven Care Center in Snohomish and the family home at 501 Laurel Drive eventually was sold. Her life’s work is cared for and shared by family members.

Sources:

Margaret Riddle conversations with Maureen Duryee (niece of Marjorie Duryee) who shared memories, insights, scrapbooks of news clippings and a wealth of photographs, 2009-2012;

Marjorie Duryee diaries/journals, 1930s to 1970s.

Photographs and access to unpublished diaries and journals courtesy of the Duryee Family
© Margaret Riddle 2012 All Rights Reserved  WLP Story # 75 ~

Mary Webb Duryee

Small Town Girl, Big Time Communicator

A young fireman on a fund drive in North Everett approached a little lady out sweeping her front porch. She asked bright pertinent questions, was kind, reassuring and happy to donate. However, by the time he walked away, he had volunteered to help raise money for her latest cause, the Imagine Children’s Museum. He had met a veteran fund-raiser, Mary Webb Duryee.

Born in 1918, Mary Webb was the only child of “O.T.” and Mandy Webb, whose modest house stood in a North Everett neighborhood where everybody knew everybody. Back in the early 1920s Mary could be found sweeping the porch of her back-yard playhouse or fixing sandwiches for the neighborhood kids; she hated being an only child, but not one to brood, surrounded herself with friends. School gave her more friends and bigger groups to organize, and in the eighth grade she won a Rotary Achievement Award. The awards luncheon proved to be a watershed event in her life: her interest in people had led her to community service, and she met Daniel Duryee Sr., who would one day be her father-in-law and real estate mentor.

Mary’s father, O.T. Webb, an Everett attorney, instilled in her a desire to take initiative, work hard and appreciate what she had. The Webbs were Norwegian immigrants from Wisconsin who had come to the Everett/Lowell area by boxcar in 1899. O.T’s sisters (Mary’s aunts) all had put themselves through nursing school. He had worked his way through University of Washington Law School, graduating in 1905. O.T organized and became Grand Lodge President of the local branch of Scandinavian Fraternity of America (SFA) and often gave long speeches encouraging members to help the needy, respect women, and be kind to mothers! Mary often accompanied her father to SFA events, such as a picnic in June 1930 where she heard him give one of his rousing speeches to 600 Scandinavians. She was embarrassed when he introduced her to people as his “promising daughter”, but it also made her realize he had great confidence in her.
Mary was a natural leader. Like her father, she had a knack for public speaking. But leadership itself was not her goal, she just wanted to be INVOLVED. She was President of her 9th grade class, and later Everett High School Girl’s Club president, but her 1935 commencement speech was titled “The Homemaker”. Mandy, Mary’s mother, the daughter of Swedish immigrants, had had little education herself but it was she who made sure Mary learned to sing, dance, speak in public, sew, cook, garden, and, of course—entertain, important in the world of organizing community functions.

At the University of Washington, Mary seriously considered a degree in law, something much promoted by her father. But the depression was in full swing and the five year law course was expensive. Instead, she majored in history, became president of her sorority and in 1938 represented her sorority at their national Convention. After college, Mary moved home, enrolled in Mrs. Rogers’ Business School and got a job at a bank.
Her marriage in 1941 to Dan Duryee, Jr. was the beginning of a great partnership, a love affair that lasted until his passing in 1990. When they married, Mary was welcomed into an “old” family, which had been in this country for 8 generations, and included women of great strength and character. One of Danny’s grandmothers, a single parent and businesswoman, had staked a claim in Alaska during the Gold Rush. His other grandmother, an Everett pioneer, well-educated for her time, had been a founding member of the Everett Women’s Book Club back in 1894. And Mary had suddenly acquired siblings: Danny’s two dynamic and creative older sisters.

In return, Mary cherished her role as Mrs. Dan Duryee Jr. In Danny, she had found a soul-mate: both found PEOPLE endlessly fascinating. Like Mary, Danny was an early-riser, a list-maker, problem-solver, and good organizer; like Danny, Mary loved children, animals, sentimental movies, popular music, dancing, and bringing people together. They were both absolutely committed to Everett and exceptionally unselfish and low-profile about their good works.
Dan and Mary were just beginning their lives together when Pearl Harbor was bombed and the United States entered World War II. Assuming he would be drafted, Dan asked Mary to join the staff of the family company, D.A. Duryee and Co., learn the real estate business, and get the credentials to run the company. Thus, in 1942, Mary became one of the first women in Washington State to have her own real estate license and, at age 24, when Danny joined the army, she began coordinating every aspect of the business.

Real estate was very different then from what it is now. Multiple Listing Service and office computers didn’t exist. She opened and closed the office seven days a week, inspected property, showed houses (being careful not to compete with the veteran salesmen), wrote and posted ads, handled escrow, banking, payroll, rents, bills, repairs, and leases, and loyally chauffeured her father-in-law.

She gave pep talks to boost morale and mediated staff, tenant, and family dramas. But, somehow, she found time to read and answer the long, detailed letters her husband wrote during the war…love letters of a unique kind because they focused on Everett, on the challenges Mary faced, and on their future together.

Mary Duryee at Lake Bosworth on a bright day, Feb. 22, 1944. Daniel Duryee, Sr. took photo. “The person in the picture is so enthused, I assume, that she is already practicing her gestures to emphasize to a customer at some later date, some of the attractive points of this property.”

Mary adored her father-in-law, Daniel Sr. and while working along side him during the war years, she learned as much about community service as she did about real estate. Dan Sr. had grown-up with the town, graduated from EHS in 1898, and personally helped rescue the struggling YMCA in 1900. He understood and actively supported the town’s backbone of human services. In his quiet, hard-working way, Dan Sr helped Mary see how much a single individual could contribute to strengthening a community.

When Dan returned home in 1946, Mary handed over the big stack of nearly completed contracts that happened to be on her desk and became “the Homemaker”. Within a year, Dan Sr had passed away, Mary was pregnant, and Danny was re­invigorating his company; DA Duryee & Co went on to grow and prosper for 50 more years, but Danny used to say of the war years: “we couldn’t have done it without Mary”. She gladly became a full-time housewife, and then Mom to her two daughters, but she was never really out-of-the-loop of her husband’s working life. She had enjoyed the action of real estate, its potential for meeting people’s wants and needs, and for several decades she kept her real estate license current…..just in case.

While Danny worked 12 to 15-hour days both at his office and with various community boards, Mary kept her desk at home piled high with to-do lists, agendas, and her ever-growing card file of names. Like many others, she began soliciting door- to- door for Children’s Orthopedic Hospital and then worked with their North Everett Guild for many years. She served for 13 years on the YMCA board, worked as fund-raiser and board member for UGN (later United Way) and helped organize and run her church bazaars, for which she’d spoon 10-gallon kettles of mincemeat into jars every November for decades. She was a life member of the Children’s Foundation at Everett General Hospital, organized many charity auctions and fund-raisers for the local Junior Club and supported Volunteers of America and Campfire USA.   A highlight of her life was her decade as Campfire group leader for each of her daughters. “Miss Mary” held meetings in a cabin-like room above her garage. It had plain wooden floors, an upright piano, a big table for art projects and a special row of coat hooks, each with a little girl’s name on it. While it may have felt like a “play-room”, one wall was also covered with a big map of the world, and while Mary wanted the girls to find fun and friendship, her primary goal was to teach them to be responsible. She was just as comfortable helping the shy Campfire girl earn her first service beads as she was when speaking to a big crowd at a charity banquet.
Mary continues to live just three blocks from the house where she was born. Her own Everett Women’s Book Club group, now down to eight women, has been meeting regularly since 1947. Her Campfire girls stay in touch and still call her “Miss Mary”. She quietly supports many charities and non-profits around town, including the Emma Yule Society. However, when the opportunity came to help organize support for the Imagine Children’s Museum in the early 1990’s, she put on her old walking-shoes, and went, with cane, to the meetings, thrilled once again, to be making lists and stuffing envelopes.
In September 2007, at the United Way Spirit of Snohomish Co Breakfast, Mary was given the Reeves/Sievers Award for Lifetime community service. The keynote speaker that day, Lou Tice, said about people like Mary: “You can’t control how much you get, but you can control how much you give.”

Sources: Personal remembrance and family photographs, Maureen Duryee.
© 2008 Maureen Duryee All Rights Reserved

Eva Jones Davis—Everett Pioneer

Eva Jones Davis as Phone operator, circa 1903

One stormy summer day in 1891, Mary Jones and her eight-year-old daughter Eva boarded a small steamer in Olympia and journeyed north. A newly built one-room house was waiting for them, near the Snohomish River, at a place that would soon be called Everett, Washington.

From the start, Eva and her family considered themselves “pioneers.” Traveling to Washington State by train from the Midwest, the Joneses first settled in Chehalis, then Olympia, and finally Everett, a pattern that, in variation, was repeated by hundreds of new arrivals to the Pacific Northwest over the next twenty years. For many, the journey was a movement west. For others the journey was south or north or east, depending on their place of origin. Their experiences were as diverse as their numbers. What they held in common was a strong sense of independence and the dream of improving their lives. Many, like the Joneses, came with adventure in their hearts.

Eva’s father Bert Jones, a millwright, had arrived earlier to help install machinery for a paper mill in Lowell (now part of Everett) and a concentrator for the mining town of Monte Cristo, east of town in the Cascade Mountains.

The Puget Sound waters were rough on the day they traveled and most of the passengers aboard the steamboat became seasick. Eager to end their trip, Mary and Eva disembarked at a dock on Port Gardner Bay and walked two miles through brush across the peninsula to their house. The steamer continued its journey to a wharf on riverside and the crew unloaded their belongings, including the family cat and a caged bird, on the grassy riverbank.

Recalling her childhood memories of that day nearly eighty years before, Eva told what she had seen when she first arrived. The town wasn’t really a town yet. Mostly it resembled a battle field strewn with stumps, mud and bogs. Few families had arrived. Eva and her mother may have thought of the challenges ahead trying to live in such a primitive place. The only people Eva saw were workers clearing the land and others who came to sell goods and lodging to the workers. There was a general store and post office on the bayside and a grocery, a cigar stand and a hotel near the river. Eva recalled seeing their makeshift, temporary structures. Some had tent roofs. Workers cut trees, cleared land and burned stumps, prompting one journalist to describe the town site as “an inferno where smoke filled the air and smoldering stumps glowed red at night.”
Everett Townsite, 1891, courtesy of Everett Public Library, Everett, WA

By the fall of 1891, there were enough children at the town site to start a school. Temporary classrooms were set up in the Brue Building on Everett Avenue. Eva’s best friend and playmate was neighbor Gracie Spithill whose grandfather and grandmother had homesteaded years before the city of Everett was imagined. Gracie was part Scot and part Snohomish Indian. While Eva was to live a long life, Gracie died as a child.

Eva and the Brue building school, circa 1890s, courtesy Everett Public Library Northwest Room

Eva quickly learned to care for herself since her father was often at Monte Cristo and her mother was a midwife who sometimes was away for days delivering babies. Mary Jones trusted in home remedies and Eva continued to use her mother’s recipes throughout her life. She made her own cough syrup and remembered once making a salve that helped to save a young boy’s injured leg. When asked what ingredients she used, Eva replied “That’s a long story. We were standing on the ocean beach in Oregon. And we see something shining way out in the water. Well the tide was coming and that tin came to us and it was a jar of Stockholm tar. Of course it was runny and I didn’t know what to mix with it, so I got Vaseline and melted the Vaseline and mixed half and half and made a salve out of it. It was a gallon can and it lasted a long time.”

As a young woman, Eva was a telephone operator. It was here that she met James H. Davis, a lineman who came to town with a traveling work crew stringing telephone lines. Eva and James began dating and married in 1903. The couple lived in the Jones’s family home for four years and Eva gave birth to their first child, a daughter. The Davises eventually had a home of their own on riverside and a son was born.

In 1977 Eva was interviewed in her home by Margaret Riddle and David Dilgard of the Everett Public Library and shortly before her death, photographer Carolyn Kozo Cole took pictures of her [see photo to the right]. Eva described herself as a “homebody”, a person who “didn’t neighbor much.” She was not involved in church or club activities. Her life revolved instead around her home and her family. Since arriving in Everett, she had lived in only two houses and both were on Everett’s riverside. Her home was filled with treasures from the past including cyanotype photos made by an aunt which were then printed on 4” x 5” pieces of cloth and quilted as pillows. There are quite a lot of Everett pictures in there,” Eva had said. “I’ve had those for years and years and years…..they never fade.” When Eva reminisced, she occasionally pointed to an item that reminded her of someone from the past, such as a clock that once belonged to early pioneer and bicycle shop owner Arthur Baily.

Eva Jones Davis; Photographer Carolyn Kozo Cole

Eva loved to garden and each plant in her yard had its own story. Less a feat of professional gardening than a personal statement, Eva’s property had the look of land that has been cared for over many years by the same person. One glorious cedar tree dominating her back yard had been planted by Eva when she was young.
Throughout her long life Eva Laura Jones Davis had never “doctored much.” When at 97 years of age she was diagnosed with cancer, she simply said to a granddaughter “Take me home”, which is where she died on March 21, 1980. When asked for her secret to a long life, she replied “I haven’t any secret. I’m just allowed to live this long and I like it. I have seven grandchildren, twelve great grandchildren and eight great-great grandchildren, so that makes me a great lady!”

Sources: Interview with Eva Jones Davis by David Dilgard and Margaret Riddle, July 25, 1977; Riddle, Margaret, “Oral History: Eva Jones Davis”, Journal of Everett and Snohomish County History, Vol. 5 (Everett, 1983) p. 23-31.
© 2006 Margaret Riddle All Rights Reserved;  WLP Story # 36 ~