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Skagit River Journal

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Noel V. Bourasaw, editor (bullet) 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284
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James Hood Mathews of Utopia —
memories by his daughter,
Helen, & your humble editor
An introduction to Utopia

(Home in 1924)
      The Mathews family in front of the editor's childhood home in Utopia in about 1924: James Hood Mathews with his daughters, Josephine, left, and Helen, right.

By Noel V. Bourasaw, Skagit River Journal, ©2006
      One of my earliest memories is from1950, when I was five or so, of riding home in our 1946 Plymouth to our farm in Utopia. I can still recall that trip along the Hoehn (or Skiyou) Road past the old Van Fleet homestead. We were listening on the radio to a very popular post-World War II tune, The Old Master Painter, which was such a pop rage that six different versions of it appeared on the Hit Parade, performed by, Richard Hayes (#2); Dick Haymes (#4); Peggy Lee and Mel Torme (#9); Phil Harris (#10); Snooky Lanson (#12); and Frank Sinatra (#13)
That old master painter from the faraway hills
painted the violets and the daff-o-dills
He put the purple in the twilight haze
then did a rainbow for the rainy days
Dreamed up the murals on the blue summer skies
painted the devil in my darlin's eyes
Captured the dreamer with a thousand thrills
The old master painter from the faraway hills

      Those lyrics came back to me a few years ago when a longtime dream came true. I met Helen Mathews, who grew in the house I grew up in, but about 40 years earlier, and at almost 90, her memory is as clear as a bell and she shared her memories as if the whole process occurred just ten years before. We were brought together by Pete and Anita Smith, a lovely couple who moved to my old childhood home about 16 years ago, restored it extensively and raised their children, Hank and Kelia, in the ideal place for kids who love and respect the outdoors.
      The house is a two-story affair and when Pete gutted it down to the lathe and plaster a while ago, he discovered that it likely started as a cabin, with wings cobbled on, one at a time, and then an attic expanded on top as an afterthought. It was that attic where my late brother, Jerry, and I slept and played war games with boxes full of father's (Victor Bourasaw) nails, nuts and bolts in lieu of soldiers. The house stands on what is now called Atwell Lane — Helen notes that it was then Mathews Lane — five miles east of Sedro-Woolley, a mile west of Minkler Lake and a half mile south of the Great Northern Railroad, which my brother and I worshipped
      My favorite time of the year was the week of my birthday in August. It rarely rained and I could wear as little clothes as possible and ride barefoot for hours on my beanpole horsie, up and down the lane and the old Black Slough Road to visit neighbors and be coddled and fed with fresh-baked apple and rhubarb pies and strawberry shortcake. Those of us kids lucky enough to have summer birthdays were always feted with huge parties where all the neighbors would gather. Vast tables were covered with pot-luck smorgasbords of food and desserts and the adults would nip at Jim Beam and Oly stubbies.
      I met Pete and Anita not long after they moved in, but only really got to know them and form a warm friendship after I moved back to Sedro-Woolley to care for my ailing mother, Hazel Bourasaw. Every year, on the same weekend as my birthday, they celebrate their wedding anniversary with a picnic and campout that has grown so large that it has become an unofficial Utopia reunion and a celebration of life and music. They moved in at the time they married. Pete is a master carpenter who can fashion anything out of wood, especially boats and occasionally a musical instrument. Anita is a nurse and an immigrant from East Germany. She and her siblings and parents moved to the U.S. when she was a girl, and about a decade ago, her parents joined them at the farm and built a home out in our old hayfield in the middle of a 20-acre patch of land.
      At one of the glorious annual Chautauquas, Pete happened to mention that Helen Mathews Burns, the woman whose father built the house, visited them back in 1991. That was the first detail I learned about the original builder and owner. And four years ago he dredged up the letters that she wrote, gushing over how much she had enjoyed her visit. What a shame I had missed her, I thought, as I read her thoughts written in a neat hand, and how I regretted that I had missed the one chance to meet her before she died and missed the chance to learn the details that only she would know. I have always wondered what the farm must have been like as it was carved out of a dense forest, just a mile north of the Skagit River.
      Then one day in 2004, I opened an email from a woman named Lorna Marks. She told me that her mother, who was nearly 90, had a photo of the Utopia School and of her house where she grew up, and would I like to see it? Well, of course, I said, please send me a scan. And shortly thereafter, I received photos attached to another email as scans. The school photo was beautiful — the Utopia School, which originally stood just a mile or so southeast along the river on what was the Sophie Neble farm when I was a kid — and is now just a memory. Then I opened the second photo and got the surprise of my life. It was my house and there was James Mathews and his two daughters, standing alongside the cherry tree where I built my tree fort when I was 11. She was alive! What a lovely present, I thought. And the lyrics to The Old Master Painter came rushing back. My mother explained to me that the name of our region out there was Utopia because it was the most beautiful place in the world. And in my youthful mind, the painter of the song created it on a lush green landscape. Even though I wish that my parents and my brother could have met Helen and could have learned what I have over the past couple of years, I am convinced that there is some kind of kismet-destiny and serendipity going on here.
      But now we let Helen tell the story, in letters that she wrote to Pete and Anita after visiting her childhood home the only time, and 13 years later to me. It's an amazing, detailed story of how a pioneer carved out a small piece of the wilderness for his family and how a 64-year-old man married and then had to become a single father, underneath the towering trees. And the story of how two girls found a wonderful life in the forest after losing their mother.

Helen September 1991
(A series of letters from Helen Mathews Burns after visiting her childhood Utopia home)
(Helen and Josephine 1915)
Helen and sister Josephine 1915

      My father, James Hood Mathews, was born [Sept. 8, 1844, in Chittenango, Madison County], New York, served in the Union Army during the Civil War. About [1901] he moved to West Virginia and about 1906 came to Sedro-Woolley. He bought this 20 acres under the Homestead Act at $4 per acre. When Dad first moved here, an occasional small Indian hunting group would come through the area and sometimes camp along the creek.
      On [Aug. 23], 1908 he married Allie Summers of West Virginia. He was 64 and she was 29. In 1911 my sister Josephine was born and I was born on [May 30], 1915. Both of us were born at home. When I was eight months old, my mother died of embolism after an injury. She broke her leg when she slipped on the ice. We had a horse, a Jersey cow, chickens and a cat. Besides the seedling red cherry tree that Dad planted in the front yard, he had a Royal Anne cherry, a Stanley plum, and apple trees, early transparent and gravenstein.
      Greening and snow apples (the fameuse), also pear and apricot trees, peach. Himalayan blackberries along the fence behind the barn, red raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries and currants, rhubarb and asparagus and of course all the usual garden vegetables. Plus several bee hives. The snowball bush by the front gate was our only flower in bloom on Decoration Day to take to mother's grave. Later to bloom were an American Beauty rose, three more roses — red, pink, white, Johnny Jumpups, English daisies grew in the front lawn grass and a catnip bed under our bedroom window. And every spring, Dad planted a row of sweet peas and there was a vine, perhaps honeysuckle, at the north end of the front porch. I remember the buttercups and forget-me-nots along the lane leading to the pasture, the lovely trillium along the creek, the vine maples there, such fun to swing on, also skunk cabbage in the pasture
      For cooking we had a wood-burning range and for heating a big wood or coal stove in the living room. A ladder from the kitchen led up through a trap door to the attic — my playroom and for storage and where we dried hazelnuts gathered in fall. Once our house caught fire from a too-hot stovepipe during haying season. When Dad rebuilt that corner of the kitchen, he also added on an extra general-purpose room behind the kitchen. Later he built a cement block room under the woodshed next to the kitchen wall that was for storage of our canned fruits and vegetables. The space between that room's roof and the woodshed roof was also a play place for me.
      There was one other farm at the end of Mathews Lane. I was fortunate that one of the many children was a girl my age (Daughter Lorna note: "Gladys Severson was my mother's best playmate."). That farm and others had small dairy herds. After morning milking, milk cans would be placed on the main road for pickup by the milk truck. Our mailbox was at the main road. I loved to go for the mail.

      [Journal ed. note: In 1998, Howard Miller showed me that the main road was the original River Road that connected Sedro with the upriver towns and hugged the north shore of the Skagit and various other sloughs, through Lyman and Hamilton, all the way to where Frank Hamilton and Magnus Miller homesteaded at what would become Baker City and later Concrete. Hamilton and others originally blazed the road to lead their cattle upriver in the 1880s and '90s. That section in Utopia later became known as the Black Slough Road.]
      There were no churches in our area but about once a year a traveling evangelist would hold services in the schools. Our school [Utopia] had eight grades in two rooms on the ground floor and the auditorium for Christmas play and present exchange, etc., was upstairs. Also the school library was in a small alcove. I recall reading Little Women, Eight Cousins, Peter Pan, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Anne of Green Gables, the Five Little Peppers series, the Brer Rabbit stories, and my favorite of all — The Secret Garden. I don't know what the boys had to read.
      Box suppers once a year raised money for school incidentals. The girls and mothers brought food for two in a box or basket. These were auctioned off to the men and boys. The school playground had splendid swings, teeter-totters, giant strides, and a ball field. In the Little Room (first four grades), the teacher started our day by reading from the Mother Westwind stories. A happy start.
      I recall with pleasure going with the neighbor children, north, to play along the [Great Northern] railroad and tracks [the Puget Sound & Baker River logging railroad tracks were a little farther north and parallel to the GN]. We'd hang from the trestle, then drop to the creek below, feast on salmonberries and wild strawberries, sip from a tiny spring that was home to a wee frog. When a meadow near the river flooded, and froze, everybody went skating, skates or no skates
      In 1926, Dad, age 82, had a stroke and died four days later. Jo and I then lived for two year with his [Brosseau] cousins in Bellingham, then to Huntington, West Virginia to live with our mother's brother. [My sister] Jo and I visited our home place in 1966 and in 1982 and took pictures. This is my only visit. A lifelong dream come true. [Journal ed. note: That was Dwight Brosseau and his wife Mabel. He grew up along with Sedro-founder Mortimer Cook's daughter Nina, after his parents settled at Sterling. His mother, Edna [Parsons] Brosseau, helped sew the American flag for the first 4th of July celebration hereabouts, and he served for many years at Pacific American Fisheries in Fairhaven.]

Helen October 1991
(Cherry tree)
This was a cherry tree that James Mathews either planted or nursed along and has been standing in front of the Utopia house for at least a century. The editor built a tree fort in it when he was 11. Lightning struck it about 40 years ago and it has been pruned back severely.

      I didn't know until this summer, reading books on northwest Washington, that the Skagit was a salmon river. My sister knew. She'd seen boys with pitchforks, getting salmon at a shallow place, probably beyond our school area. We had hoped to see the Nature Conservancy's Bald Eagle Spawning Area (almost 800 acres) near Marblemount, but didn't find it. Of course neither salmon or eagles would have been there in September — the festival there is in February — but I had wanted to see what it was like.
      Leda and Helen, who I mentioned before, are the Reische girls, from the farm with the big maple and a trailer there. Leda and Jo were almost the same age. Helen was older and I was younger, so we were pals. They were almost like sisters to us. Our lives would have been bleak without the entire Reische family. [Art and Margaret Reische lived at the northwest corner of the junction the Burmaster and Hoehn roads, with Art's father, Oscar, when the editor was growing up.] In the 1924 snapshot my dress is orange organdy bound with black tape, handed down from Leda. In her album is a snapshot of her wearing the dress! It was Leda who brought us out to visit you at the old farm. Helen had been very ill, but I got to visit with here. Then she got worse and died on Nov. 3 [actually Oct. 29, 1991] at age 82. Leda is 79 and has arthritis, very painful for her.

Helen post-October 1991
From left are Ruth Mathews and Billy Mathews — children of Will Mathews, a son from James Hood Mathews' first marriage; and Josephine Mathews with James's farm horses in 1923 when they visited from California.

      In his last years, Dad had circulatory problems and arthritis but managed quite well. Sept. 8, 1926, was his 82nd birthday. Two weeks later, he didn't feel well one morning, didn't eat breakfast, but said he'd be all right and sent Jo and me off to school. I got home from Utopia School a little before Jo got home from high school in town. I told her Dad was still sitting in his chair and wouldn't wake up.
      She sent me flying across the fields to Atwells for help. Jim and Roy Atwell drove over and, with help of a boy from the end of our lane, put Dad in the back seat of their car and took him to the hospital, where he died four days later without regaining consciousness. The Attwells notified the Bellingham [Brosseau] cousins, and took us to visit Cad and looked after our cow, horse, chickens and me. Jo stayed with another neighbor. They were kindness personified. Roy sent gifts to us in Bellingham at Christmas. I know that Jo and I have never forgotten the helpfulness of the Attwells in our time of need. I was 11 and Jo was 15
      Dad's chair was a Morris chair, an early form of a recliner, designed by William Blake of England (1834-96). Dad's chair was upholstered in dark brown leather with broad wood arms, handy for a coffee cup or book, and the footrest could be lifted and extended into several positions (it was also upholstered).

Helen Winter 1991
(James and wagon)
James and his grandson Billy in the farm wagon, 1923. James had three children from his first marriage and Billy was the son of James's son, Will Mathews.

      Fameuse (snow apple, French for famous) A late autumn variety having red streaked fruit. I remember when Dad planted that tree so it must have been planted in the early 1920s because I remember admiring, eating and liking its pretty apples. The two I got in September weren't ripe but I munched a few bites for old time's sake.
      The Himalay Berry (rubus procerus) is actually a species of blackberry introduced from its native Europe into California, Oregon and Washington. It is grown for its fruit and for breeding purposes. That I copied from an old book on fruits that I've had for about 50 years.
      I've always assumed that Dad was first on the property. I remember his telling me about pulling stumps. One time he was beating the horse to make it pull harder. The horse turned its head back and bit his hand severely. He was so ashamed of himself that he never again beat a horse.
      After our return home [in 1991], I asked Jo what she knew. She recalled Dad telling her there was a building on the place with bedbugs hiding in wall cracks, which he filed with mud to eliminate the bedbugs. But she doesn't know if he built up that building or started over
      On my home place notes I gave you, please change "cinder block" walls to "insulated wood walls for the pantry Dad built adjacent to the kitchen. My girlfriend and I played paper dolls atop the pantry, cut out clothing for them from Sears and Monkey Ward [Montgomery], which later went to the privy. Probably sawdust was used for insulation. Dad had a little potato storage shed in the back corner of the woodshed and it had sawdust insulation in the walls. One year our cat had her kittens there. [Journal ed. note: that privy was still there, under a gnarled old cedar tree that still stands, when we moved there in 1948 when I was toddler. We continued using it until my dad built an inside bathroom after he went to work at Northern State Hospital when I was eight or nine.]

Helen Nov. 16, 1991
(clam digging)
A real treat was to go clamming at Rosario Beach. On this occasion in 1923, we see the Reische family, the girls of which were Helen's dear friends, and Helen may be one of the girls.

      Sept. 24, 1991, will always be a red-letter day for me. I was so filled with inner excitement. I wish I'd walked over to the creek bank, looked closely at the turkeys, gone inside Pete's cabinet shop, drunk a glass of well water, looked at the snowball bush, which is surely part of the old one, and walked to the end of the lane. But lack of time was such a pressure, only one day in Sedro-Woolley.
      Bob and I did drive back to the area the next day after returning from Mount Baker, drove slowly out to the end of Utopia Road and stood on the bank of the Skagit, water such a lovely green, but didn't go down the lane. I think the whole community must have raised me. I do remember staying some with Mr. and Mrs. Gill when they sold. The Attwells moved in [to the Gill's house on the Black Slough Road] because the river was washing out their place [on the flatland below by the river]. I started school when I was five, so Dad could get on with his farm work. Jo had taught me the ABCs, counting, colors, etc. So I did fine.

Helen to Noel Nov. 7, 2004
(Utopia School)
      Utopia School in 1923. Click on the photo to the see a larger photo of the combined classes of 1924. Can anyone identify the children and teachers in the photo?

      Jo and I did not have birth certificates so about 1950 or so, she asked the Washington State Board of Health for copies. My birth certificate says I was born:
County: Skagit . . . City or [part blurred, maybe Township?] of New Utopia
      I weighed 5 pounds, eight ounces and the address of my parents, "near Sedro-Woolley." Well, New Utopia was new to me. What was the older Utopia?" My own investigation revealed that Utopia is defined as: 1. an ideally perfect place; 2. a book by Sir Thomas More of England, written in 1516, describing the perfect society on an imaginary island. He was beheaded by Henry VIII [King of England], but not for writing that book! [Journal ed. note: as we have discovered, that area between the river and Minkler Lake was originally named Utopia or New Utopia — a new fact, because the advance scouts for the Equality Colony in 1896 considered placing the colony about where the school stood. But when they returned in 1897, the monster flood of 1896 had carved nearly 200 acres from the river bank. They decided instead to place the colony on the slope of Bow Hill (see this Journal website: http://www.stumpranchonline.com/skagitjournal/WestCounty/Burl-NW/Equality02-RJordan.html This story will soon be changed to this address. If neither file connects, please email us.)]
      The pantry and storage room Dad added on the summer of 1922 or '23 when he repaired the fire damage. The woodshed and well were roofed, open at the front [west side?] and about halfway to the left [north?]. A small room in the back corner [east?] had double walls with sawdust insulation, to store our potatoes from freezing. One time our cat had her kittens on gunny sacks there. Dad had a workbench and many tools — chopping blocks for kindling, a last [??] for half-soling [the horses?], nothing is in proportion in my sketch above. The ladder to the attic was at the left of the shelves for dishes, etc., and right of the shelves, a shallow floor to ceiling cabinet with shelves for storage and a door. When we visited our home place in 1927, my two very tall evergreens at rear of the cleared land had been cut down so the Kings had maybe started some logging? [Journal ed. note: the King family bought the farm after James Mathews's death, moving down from Birdsview. We know very little about them and we hope a reader can educate us.]

Helen to Noel, Oct. 7, 2004
      Delighted to hear from you. This letter is to tell what I can, re: the Brosseaus, will write later about the farm and our neighbors. Your Skagit River Journal is interesting and I especially enjoyed reading about the Barnes Circus in Sedro-Woolley in 1922. Jo and I went with the Seversons. My mind is blank re: Tusko [the elephant that tore up the town of Sedro-Woolley in May 1922 and made news around the country all the way to New York].
      Two years ago I came across the S.V. tulip in a nursery catalog, knew it had to have been hybridized in the Skagit Valley tulip fields, so I of course ordered bulbs. It is a beauty and if you don't have it in your garden, you should.
      The photo of Jo and me was taken about a month before Dad died. I don't know how George Brosseau, father of Dwight, got out to Washington or anything about his work, but after Dad divorced his first wife, George encouraged Dad to visit and look around, nothing the fertile land that was good for farming.
      In September 1926, Dad had a stroke at home, at age [82], Jim Atwell and Herman Severson put him in Jim's car and took him to the hospital in Sedro-Woolley where he died four days later without regaining consciousness. The Atwells were very helpful
      Jo, 15, and I, 11, went to Bellingham to live with our cousin, Dwight Brosseau, his wife Mabel and her mother, Ida Priest. Her sister Edith and Edith's husband, Frank, often visited for weeks at a time. Frank had been a missionary in China. They were all fervent Pentecostals. Dwight's lovely home on Baker Road was in the country, no close neighbors. Translation: no children to play with. Jo and I would walk about a quarter of a mile to the road where a school bus would take us in to Bellingham. I was in the seventh grade. Jo was in high school.
      I loved Dwight, Ida Priest and Edith. They were warm, friendly people. Dwight was a gardener, beautiful rose-bed below the front porch, perennials and annuals along the garage and out back a dahlia bed, with flowers from tiny pompoms to dinner-plate size. He belonged to the men's Dahlia Club and sometimes won a ribbon at their fall exhibition
      One Christmastime they [Dwight and Mabel] had overnight guests from Seattle and Jo and I spent two nights at his parents' home in Bellingham. I recall the Murphy bed that fell when we got in [Murphy beds were folded up into the wall, with a door over them]. When Lindbergh made his solo flight and landed in Paris, Dwight called Mabel to tell her. She wasn't at all interested: "How odd he'd call to tell me that."
      Jo and I were in Bellingham for one year, eight months. In early June 1928, when school was out, we went to Huntington, West Virginia, to live with mother's brother, Dr. George Summers, and his wife, Virginia, a nurse. They had wanted to take us to raise after mother died when I was eight months old, but Dad wanted to keep us and we were always glad he did.
      Jo and I graduated from Huntington High, then went to Cincinnati University's School of Nursing for our RN degrees. Jo married and had a son. I married and had a daughter.
      I was sorry that Mary Wulff died. She and I started first grade together. Our first day there at Utopia School, we held hands and walked around the schoolhouse and became best friends. I didn't see her outside of school because she lived in Lyman [actually south of Minkler Lake and southwest of Lyman]. After I went to Bellingham we wrote to each other a couple of times, but one day, while I was at school, Mabel read a letter from Mary. She was upset at a commonly used slang word or some such and put a stop to our correspondence.
      From the diary of Dad's first wife, Mary Peck, Fayetteville, New York. "They married in September 1873 and for a honeymoon they went by train to Charlotte, Michigan, to visit Dad's Aunt Jane and her husband, Luke Brosseau, who were the grandparents of Dwight.

Helen to Noel 2005
James Hood Mathews moves to Washington

      In 1905 or 1906, Dad went to Washington state where his cousin, George Brosseau, was living. He bought 20 acres of land near Sedro-Woolley under the Homestead Act. Dad told my sister Jo that someone had started [building] there earlier but gave up. There was a small, rough building with chinks in the walls where bedbugs lived. He used mud to close up the chinks. I do not know for sure but think it reasonable to assume he lived in that shanty/cabin while building the house, then maybe tore it down and used most of the wood for the outdoor privy.
      Dad told us that, during his first year there, a small band of Indians on a hunting trip camped for a few days on the found above the creek. Another time he watched a skunk family circle five or six times around a large tree as through playing a game.
      There were seven acres of level land [as there still are today]. The 13 acres across the creek were not cleared, were full of trees and shrubby brush. Jo and I would try to explore there but never got very far. The field behind the barn was not completely cleared. Felled tree trunks and stump were still there, where our horse and cow could graze and it was a wonderful playground for kids. The Gill/Atwell field south of our place was not fully cleared either. Dad cleared the land behind the house [east], and raised hay there, and also used it for pastureland. He built the barn and two chicken-houses.
      Dad planted fruit trees: apples, pears, apricots, cherries, also Himalayan blackberries, blackcaps, red raspberries, strawberries and red currants for jelly. He also had a vegetable garden and two bee hives [which the late Donnie Atwell, Jimmie's grandson, tended from the 1950s on].

James marries and is widowed
      On Aug. 8, 1908, Allie Summers came from Milton, West Virginia and she and Dad married that day. Dad and Allie had eight happy years together. In February 1916, she fell on the back porch ice, breaking the right tibia. A cast was put on, but a few days later she suddenly died, from an embolism caused by the injury.
      So Dad was left with a 4 1/2-year-old girl and eight-month-old baby to raise alone. Mother's brother, Dr. George Summers in West Virginia, and his wife wanted to take us to raise, but Dad wanted to keep us. Jo and I were always glad he did.
      Hillary Clinton wrote a book, It takes a village to raise a child, and that was true in our case. Dad's good neighbors certainly helped raise Jo and Me. The Blanks on Minkler Road, the Reisches, the Kidders, the Gills. They were all marvelous, many, many times caring for us so that Dad could do his farm work
      Dad was a stern man, but he had a good sense of humor. He did not drink, smoke, chew or curse. He had started out as a Presbyterian but became a Unitarian and subscribed to their children's magazine, Wee Wisdom, for me. I certainly enjoyed it. In 1923 he got me four volumes of the just-published Little Nature Library, which includes the volumes on Birds, Butterflies, Flowers and Trees, and I still have my well-worn copies.
      Dad and mother were both of English ancestry, people known for their love of flowers and nature. We had an American Beauty rose, several moss roses, Johnny Jump-ups and a snowball bush by the front gate [which was still growing there when the Bourasaws lived on the farm in the 1950s]. All of us admired the lovely trilliums growing along the creek. Every spring, Dad would put up two posts with chicken wire and grow gorgeous sweet peas. We also had a catnip bed for our cat to enjoy [and it was still there in the 1950s].
      Some elderly man, when he received a letter from his sister, would bring it to Dad to read to him, then dictate a reply. Dad had beautiful handwriting and so did Jo. I scribble; in school I always got a "P" for "poor" in penmanship. Another old man, Mr. Ritchie, used to visit Dad every year or so. Once he brought me a gold-threaded, red belt. After Dad's death, he came to Bellingham to see Jo and me.
      Mr. and Mrs. Kidder had the property across the lane [west] from the Gill/Atwell place. One day I was in their kitchen where she was stirring up a cake. She said: "Helen, you can't lick the bowl this time. Our son is coming home from the war and this cake is all for him." Several days after the son got home, he killed himself. The Kidders soon after sold their place to a bachelor, Mr. Ogden, an Englishman. After a few years he sold out and Dad bought his organ for Jo and me to have fun with. There was no one around to give us lessons, but we enjoyed it. For himself, he bought a dark brown teapot with small, colorful raised dots sprinkled around the lid. It was a beauty. The Johnsons then bought the old Kidder place. Their daughter, Gina, and Jo were good friends and Jo stayed with her while I stayed at the Atwells while Dad was in the hospital.
      In Sedro-Woolley, I remember Mrs. Bonds's hotel where Jo and I stayed while Dad repaired the kitchen fire damage. He also added on the pantry and the storage room off the kitchen about 1922 or 1923. I remember a nearby saloon and the J.C. Penney store [which we will feature in depth in Issue 36 of the optional Subscribers Edition]. I went once with Dad to the blacksmith's shop on the outskirts of town, for him to put a shoe on our horse, Nelly. I also remember Bingham Park for July Fourth family picnics, bands playing. Decoration Day was always on May 30th, my birthday, and the veterans would march to the graveyard. We always took a bouquet of snowball flowers to mother's grave. One year, spring was late and the blooms were still greenish but lovely. I like to think that the snowball bush at the Smith's [the old home place in 2006] is an offshoot of our large bush by the front gate.
      Dad had a horse and buggy. A top and sides could be put on for winter and if raining. He usually took the graveled Burmaster Road to town. Sometimes he'd stop to talk to a little old man who raised ferrets in cages. While they visited, I'd go admire the ferrets. I presume they were sold for rat catching. After Minkler Road [Highway from Sedro-Woolley to Lyman] was paved, he often went that way.
      Jo and I never walked the railroad tracks to go places. We would go there to play, to eat salmon berries and wild strawberries. One time, a soldier in uniform went by. Jo called, "Hello, soldier." He smiled, saluted, said, "Hello, girls," and went on homeward. All of us kids played on the tracks and the trestle. Once a boxcar was on the siding.
      The Grange was an association of farmers. It met in town, I think in the same building where the GAR picture was taken. Dad is in that photo. I do not recall how often the Grange met, but the women all brought food and it was a feast for all. [Journal ed. note: That hall was the one that the IOOF/Odd Fellows constructed at the southeast corner of Woodworth and Metcalf streets in Sedro-Woolley in the fall of 1923, still standing in 2006.]
      How did we make a living? Dad had a small war pension and he did sustenance farming. Our Guernsey cow gave us rich milk, cream, cottage cheese, butter, buttermilk. The chickens gave us meat and eggs. Honey came from the beehives and fruits and vegetables from the garden and orchard. Dad would can some for the winter. He would take extra produce to town to a grocer who would sell to townspeople. From the grocer, he would get flour, sugar, coffee, bacon, spices, salt, cornmeal etc.
      Dad would sometimes cook cornmeal mush for Saturday night supper. Next morning, we'd have thick slices of cornmeal mush fried in butter, topped with honey and that was so good. Dad was a good cook. I remember his "chicken fricassee" and Thousand Island, a rich custard topped with meringue islands. We had a barrel [butter] churn, a two-burner kerosene stove for summer, and two washtubs with a wringer. Jo would rub-a-dub on the washboard and I'd turn the wringer and help hang the cloths on the clothesline to dry. Sad irons were heated on the stove. Believe it or not, Sad irons were invented by a Mr. Sad.
      Jo and I always missed having a mother. Dad did the best he could for us. During the late summer of 1926, for several weeks he didn't feel very well. We looked after him as needed. The day after his 82nd birthday, he didn't want breakfast, said he was tired, would eat later, and sent us to school. I was in the seventh grade at Utopia; Jo was in high in town. I got home a little before she did and told her that Dad was asleep and wouldn't wake up. When Jo saw him, she sent me for Jim Atwell who came with his son Roy and with Herman Severson's help, put Dad in Jim's car and took him to the hospital, where he died four days later without regaining consciousness after his stroke. All in all, it was a good way for him to do. He died on Sept. 13, 1926.
      Jim Atwell called our cousin, Dwight Brosseau, in Bellingham. He came and took charge of everything. Sale of our property, auction of livestock and household goods was a trifle over 44,000, which of course came to Jo and me, kept in a separate account to be used for special or medical expenses, our nursing school fees and a small weekly allowance. We also got $8 per month until age 16 as children of a deceased Civil War veteran.
      I've often wondered who bought our bookcase with its glass doors. Dad had a 24-volume set of good literature, several novels and other books, a large Funk and Wagnall's dictionary, a 1913 edition with many beautiful color photographs. The title page had an inscription to James Hood Mathews, as a subscriber who had helped make the publication of the dictionary possible. Jo's son now has that. I have my four volumes of the Little Nature Library, Longfellow's Hiawatha and the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam by Rudyard Kipling, both in pocket size. We were not allowed, however, to keep the 24-volume set of literature because Mabel Brosseau thought they were "worldly."
      Jo was always a wonderful sister to me. She died in Jan 1994 at age 82. We kept in touch with the Reische family through all the years. Jo visited Sedro-Woolley in 1966 and again in 1982, each time taking pictures of our home. I visited in 1991 and was delighted to meet the Smiths, to know they liked my old home, planned to stay there and were improving it. Dad said the front yard, cherry tree was a seedling. I always imagined he was eating cherries one day, threw down the cherry stones and one sprouted and he let it grow.

Epilogue — 2005 letter
      You may be wondering how I know about Fayetteville and West Virginia events. M.L. Peck and his daughter, Mary — Dad's first wife, kept diaries in small notebooks, which were handed down in the family, loaned to me to read and copy. I got info re: the West Virginia coal-mine stay from my cousin Horace, who was nine years old and with his parents there. Dad lived with them.
      How do I know that Dad and Allie had a happy marriage? After Jo and I moved to West Virginia to live with Allie's brother, Dr. George Summers, we visited Allie's home place in Milton and read her letters and postcards to home. Dad's son Will and his family visited us from Los Angeles in late August 1924 and took pictures. Dad would be 80 in just three weeks after that.

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Story posted on July 28, 2006, updated Aug. 16, 2006, moved to this domain Nov. 2, 2011
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