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Skagit River Journal

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Alice Elinor Lambert and Elizabeth
Poehlman and their quest for history
and a special guest — painter Tom Thomson

By Noel V. Bourasaw, Skagit River Journal of History & Folklore ©2005, updated 2008
Alice in 1975, age 89. Photo courtesy of Arliss Abbott.
This story was moved to our new domain on July 8, 2008, 91 years to the day after Tom Thomson set off in his canoe on Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park, north of Toronto, and was never seen alive again. Read below for his connection with Alice.

      One of our goals for this website back in 2000 was to find the work of regional historians and authors who interviewed the pioneers and their descendants and to insure that that they and their work does not fall through the cracks of history. One such writer is Alice Elinor Lambert of Darrington, Washington. As we dug deep to research her life, we discovered that she was remarkable for being a character as for being a writer. She is little known outside of Darrington today but we hope we can change that. A nonagenarian, Alice kept researching and writing until well into her 80s and, as you will see, her own story is seasoned by her relationships with her educator father and Tom Thomson, Canada's most feted artist.
      We are not the first to feature Alice. I first discovered her through the 1979 book by Elizabeth S. Poehlman, Darrington, Mining Town/Timber Town. The original edition is long out of print, but a more recent edition is for sale directly from the author and you can occasionally find originals at used-book stores. In order to learn about Alice, we soon realized that we had to find Elizabeth. We did so a year ago and we have corresponded since then. In this issue, you will also find Elizabeth's personal memory of Alice. Elizabeth also provided copies of Alice's last two known research manuscripts, which we plan to share with subscribers first in 2008-09 after more study and annotation.
      Elizabeth's book is not only about the town of Darrington but also about the history of the Monte Cristo area and the Sauk river, including one of the best studies of Indian tribes who lived along the rivers of the North Cascades. The Monte Cristo gold and silver mines and the famed Poodle Dog Pass were located about 35 miles southeast of where Darrington rose alongside Whitehorse Mountain. Alice showed Elizabeth the memoirs of Sam Strom, a Norwegian immigrant who landed in the Monte Cristo mines in 1893 and described the exciting decade when eastern Snohomish county hosted a rush of its own. Alice also shared her research of the local Indian tribes that she conducted from the 1930s on after moving to the remote community during the nationwide Depression. Alice introduced Elizabeth to Edith and Jean Bedal, sisters whose father was a white homesteader and whose mother was a Sauk Indian, and who were among the most important Indian voices of their generation.

Algonquin Elegy, by Neil J. Lehto, is a combination of facts about the life and death of Tom Thomson, from his considerable research, and of historical fiction presented through a series of characters he invented who explore modern-day Canada. He also researched Thomson's life in Seattle and painted a picture of what likely happened there between Tom and Alice, based on a web of details he found. If you cannot find the book locally, email him for purchase details. And read about the book itself. This Journal feature on Alice and Tom will be updated in 2008-09 with many new photos and research discoveries, thanks to the aid of Lambert descendants and further Journal research.

      When Elizabeth and her husband moved to Darrington in 1966, they experienced a bit of culture shock since they were from suburban Philadelphia via Los Angeles. Paul was a minister, straight out of the seminary and Darrington First Baptist Church was his first pastorate. Paul actually met Alice first and experienced her special personality but they all soon became friends and stayed close until the Poehlmans moved on to Kent in 1973. As Elizabeth notes in her profile of Alice in this issue, Alice was a very polarizing force personally, but she loved Alice soon after meeting her in 1968.
      We really put down roots in Darrington and we stayed far longer than a lot of our city friends and colleagues thought we would. In 1967 or 8 we bought land out toward Sauk Prairie. By the way, just within the past few weeks, Alice's old home in Darrington has been torn down. I drove past the lot last week and felt very sad. Her home was kind of a shack of a place, but it had so much character when she lived there. I have happy memories of tea shared at her kitchen table with the sun streaming through the windows, of delicious dinners there with people whom she wanted me to meet who could help me with my book or just to be neighborly, of jars of plum jam set out on towels on the table to cool down after their boiling bath, of Alice sitting at the table hooking a colorful rug.
By the time that Elizabeth and Paul met Alice, she was 82 years old and showing few signs of slowing down, as you will read in Elizabeth's personal profile in this issue. She was born into a very intellectually active, progressive family and experienced the tumult of America through two Depressions and a technological explosion. Elizabeth also observed that Alice was a very voracious reader and devoted every morning to writing. As Paul soon learned, Hell hath no fury like Alice's if she was interrupted in that writing routine.

(Alice as teen)
When we first posted this photo, we thought this was Alice as a teenager, but it turns out to be her late daughter, Josie. Courtesy of the Lambert family.

Alice's family
      Alice Elinor Lambert was the fourth child of seven born to the Rev. Charles Edward Lambert (1842-1932) and Ella Amelia "Nellie" (Lathrop) Lambert (1852-1942). By the time that Alice came along on Jan. 8, 1886, in Corvallis, Oregon, there were two girls, Edith Payton (1877-1964) and Clara Constance (1880-1961) and a boy, Cecil Lathrop (1883-?). Charles left his mark on at least four states and left a paper trail that we eventually found after years of searching and especially with the help of Charles Schuster of Hilo, Hawaii, the only child of Constance.
      M. Constance Guardino III gives a pretty full accounting of Charles's life in her online book, Sovereigns Of Themselves. A Liberating History of Oregon and Its Coast]. Andy Lambert, a family researcher living in Ireland, was very helpful in researching the family's background overseas, as was Charles Schuster. Charles Edward Lambert was born in Ireland on Sept. 30, 1842, near the town of Athenry, Galway. His father lived in Castle Lambert, which was built in the 14th century. Only one wall now exists, but the building is being restored. The Lambert family aided the efforts of Oliver Cromwell. Castle is the word that the Irish use for large house. The grounds have become a small village called Castle Lambert. After being accepted for college at Dublin University, Charles instead emigrated to the U.S. via the Virgin Islands in 1861 when he was 19 and entered the University of Kansas. Soon after the Civil War broke out, he enlisted in the Army of the North.
      Three years after the war, he decided once again to earn an academic degree, but he first prepared to be a pastor by enrolling at Baker University at Baldwin City, Kansas, which was an important Methodist college, like Northwestern University, though not quite as old. While researching the records of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, we discovered in the 1931 PGD magazine that he was a key early member. The national Grand Chapter granted Baker's charter in 1865 and Charles was a member from 1868-71. At that point, he and a handful of other PGD members grew dissatisfied with the school and took the chapter paraphernalia and moved it to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. The controversy made him a nervous wreck, as he recounted, and he returned to Kansas to recuperate.
      He returned in 1873 to Northwestern, after graduating from Baker, and then graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Northwestern in 1875 with a large group of civil war veterans and fellow PGD Thomas Van Scoy, who would be a long-time academic associate. After graduation, he moved across town and enrolled at Garrett Biblical Institute, a seminary for the training of Methodist ministers, which was founded the same year as Northwestern, in 1855. Sometime in 1876 he moved to Lafayette, Indiana, a small city on the Wabash river, northwest of Indianapolis. He was a Methodist preacher for a year and then a professor at Indiana University for two years.
      While in Lafayette, he married Ella Amelia "Nellie" Lathrop, a native of New York on on Oct. 25 1876. He was 34 and she was 24 and she was the daughter of the Rev. Samuel Lathrop, the first Methodist missionary bishop in Montana. According to her June 26, 1942, obituary, she was in the first class of women in 1876 at Northwestern University, where she was a distinguished student and became secretary to a famous professor, Frances E. Willard. Their first child, Edith, was born in Lafayette on Sept. 25, 1877. Sometime in 1880 they joined the growing emigration to the West Coast, perhaps because Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, summoned Charles.
      Willamette University was the first college in the West, originally called Oregon Institute when founded by Methodist missionary Jason Lee in the Willamette Valley in 1842. That was before Seattle, Tacoma or Portland even existed. The main building hosted the first sessions of the Oregon provisional legislature before Oregon became a territory in 1848. It was renamed Wallamet in 1853 and the first school of medicine in the Pacific Northwest opened there in 1866. That same school of medicine was the first one to admit women, in 1877. The name was changed back to Willamette in 1870.
      Charles was named the sixth president of Willamette and served from 1879-80, which seems like a surprising appointment for a 38-year-old man who was just four years out of college himself, especially when he had no previous administrative experience in academia. Their second child, Clara, was born in Salem on Nov. 6, 1880. We know that his old PGD friend Thomas Van Scoy succeeded him as president and served from 1880-91. Van Scoy then taught in Portland during the '90s and moved on to Montana Wesleyan University, where he served as president until his deathCharles moved his family south to Eugene in 1881 and he was a professor of English Literature for four years. In 1885, Charles moved his young family again, this time to Oakland, California, where he was a school principal from 1885-89.

Alice is born and Charles leaves academia behind for awhile
(Josie and Victoria)
Alice's daughters, Josie and Victoria, circa 1975. Photo courtesy of Betty Knowles.

      In 1886 he decided to chuck it all and move back to the country, accepting a position as pastor of a Congregational Church at Yaquina City, Oregon. We do get some hints of why he left Eugene behind, however, in Ms. Guardino's book, A Liberating History, in which she shares "Anne Jane Brooks Remembers Newport 1886." Anne arrived as at age two in 1886 by boat at Yaquina Bay, just south of Newport in what was then Benton county and is now Lincoln county — the point where Capt. James Cook first sighted the coast of future Oregon in 1778.
      Louis Kossuth Brooks, his wife Mary Miller Brooks, and daughters Anne Jane and Ada (or Addie) left their home near Foster, Oregon and came with a small band of people to the Yaquina Bay country to start a new and better life. . . . She could remember, too, the tall bearded man with the thick glasses who spoke to her father for long hours. Only later would she realize the changes in her life that his influence made.
The tall, bearded man was Charles Edward Lambert and he welcomed the Brooks family to the colony he started at Yaquina, with the Rev. Wilson White. Anne continued,
      Within a two year period, they carved a clearing into the heavy timber in a quiet peaceful valley on the south side of the bay, where Wright Creek goes into Poole Slough. The families built a large two story colony house, started a school for their children and probably established a post office, possibly under the name "Ona." Times were difficult. Many of the men were unused to this type of labor. The land was unsuited to the type of machinery they had brought; and the type of farming they had planned to do. Suddenly, the money was gone, food reduced to bran bread and fish, dissension developed and the group floundered.
      The Brookses met Nellie Lambert who had a babe in arms, young Alice, who was born on Jan. 1, 1886, back in Corvallis. Three older children made six in the family in a crude log cabin. Three more would soon join them.
      Charles had a vision and he would pursue it for the next six years with a small band of followers, even though the colony folded and the Brooks moved away to Toledo, Oregon, the first of several families who gave up. Charles started schools, churches, homesteads, a cooperative and preached the virtues of a wild, free, out-of-doors life, according to his daughter, presumably Alice. Charles soon was hired as a teacher at a boys school seven miles east of Yaquina called the Big House. Within a couple years, the Lambert family moved back closer to Yaquina on a narrow slough in back of the village where Charles conducted school in a railroad boxcar, in addition to preaching. Alice told Elizabeth S. Poehlman that her parents largely educated at home when she was a little girl. She read by the age of four and wrote by age six. In 1893, when Alice was seven, the Lambert family moved to an unknown small town near Yaquina, "in a rural section backed by forest land," where Charles was named president of an academy. While there he taught reforestation, animal husbandry and agricultural classes. Their seventh child was born there in 1896.
      In 1896 the Lamberts moved 200 miles north to Tacoma, Washington, where the parents and all seven children appeared in the 1900 federal census. During those four years, Charles was again a Congregational preacher. In rural Oregon they had braved the nationwide Depression, which started in 1893, but by 1897 the Puget Sound was growing rapidly because of its location as the first U.S. port south of the Klondike gold fields. That was a prime time to make their move. From 1900-01 he served as principal of an academy in Snohomish and then he became a pastor again in Bothell in 1902 and then a principal again at Boys Home School in Seattle. In 1904, when Alice was 18, the family appeared in a city directory in Seattle, which had become the fastest growing city on the Sound. Around that time, Charles appears to have resigned from any formal position, but Nellie became the head of the Americanization Department of the Seattle YWCA, retiring in 1926. Alice's parents and her siblings.

Alice grows her wings in Washington
and falls in love with artist Tom Thomson

Since posting this series of stories in 2005, we have found and communicated with members of Alice's family and with authors — such as Joan Murray. We will update this story completely in December. Murray's books are out of print but look at used-book stores for Tom Thomson, the last spring and Tom Thomson: Design for a Canadian Hero.

      In 1904, Seattle was literally buzzing with excitement as electric utility poles and telephone lines spread from downtown to the neighborhoods in all directions. Alice had gone ahead to Seattle before the family moved there. For her senior year of high school in 1904-05, she moved in with her aunt's family, who owned stores in the Seattle area, but for the summer of 1904 she lived at the boarding house where she met Tom. One of the best sources for both economic and social history of Seattle in that period is Roger Sale's 1976 book, Seattle Past to Present:
      The city was all very new, not just at its fringes, but everywhere. Seattle had gained about four-fifths of its 1897 population in the preceding ten years. . . . The most striking single fact about Seattle in 1897 is that, with the exception of First Hill, different land uses and economic classes everywhere were being mixed. This mixing had not been planned, and probably could not have worked well if it had been. Instead, it resulted from the great variety of work being done, which gave people mobility and opportunity, which mottled the economic scale with so many variations and changes that class lines could not easily form or harden, which perhaps just gave people so much to do that they could not afford the luxury of worrying or being contemptuous of their neighbors. In any city most of the people one meets are strangers, and in no city is there only one class or caste of people. The clearer and stronger the class lines, the stronger the tie one feels to the people of one's own class or caste — or style or race or religious belief.
(Tom Thompson)
Tom Thomson, courtesy of this website, which markets his paintings and supplies detailed information about his life.

      Sometime not long after she moved to Seattle, Alice met her first love and they carried on a whirlwind romance. We did not discover that when researching Alice's records, but instead when we researched the life of Thomas John Thomson, a famous but short-lived Canadian painter. Alice may have graduated from high school and then soon moved away from home. We know that Thomson moved back to Toronto sometime in 1904 to 1905, and we know that their romance began the year before when he was 27 and she was 18.
      The Canada Encyclopedia observes his bourgeois outlook at the time, "doubtless looked forward to a career in Seattle, probably wanting to settle down, advance in his trade and marry as his brother Ralph did in 1906." Indeed, Ralph married Ruth Shaw, a daughter of the couple who owned the boarding house on East Cherry street where Ralph lived and where Tom often visited. Tom met Alice when he went there to meet Ralph's fiance, as we learn from Algonquin Elegy, by Neil Lehto. We also learned more details from Joan Murray, the author of Tom Thomson, the Last Spring, who corresponded with Alice when she was past 90 and in a nursing home. Joan loaned us copies of Alice's letters. Alice told Joan she still recalled seeing Tom in the group of boarders gathered around the Shaws' piano, singing in a clear tenor voice the song she would always remember, In the Shade of the Sheltering Palms. "I fainted and Tom carried me in his arms up to my third floor room . . . " As you can see, her memory and her love that had never died was still raging strong even as she entered her tenth decade. We know that they met before her family moved because she described riding downtown on the James and Broadway street car and then continuing west on a car to Alki Point, where she checked out prospective houses for the family.

(Tom Thompson)
Another photo of Tom Thomson, courtesy of this website.

      Tom was born in Rosemont, Pickering Township, Ontario, the sixth of ten children, and then his family soon moved to Leith, near Owen Sound, where he grew up. As a teenager he displayed skill at drawing and learned to play several musical instruments, especially the mandolin. After high school, he worked on his father's farm and apprenticed as a machinist in 1899, the year that he unsuccessfully attempted to enlist to fight in the Boer War in southern Africa. He then attended a business college, not at all sure what he wanted to do.
      In the late summer of 1901, he decided to follow his older brother George to Seattle, where George and a cousin had started a vocational school that soon grew into Acme Business college. Within a few months, his older brother Henry arrived as did his younger brother Ralph. They had all received a modest inheritance from their grandfather, so they had cash to survive on. He and Ralph boarded at Pitt and Mabel Shaw's boarding house. After training at Acme for six months, Tom was hired as a pen artist and engraver and then in 1903 he was hired away by the Seattle Engraving Co., the leading such company in the city, for $10 more per month. On Christmas Day 1903, his first published work appears, as an engraving in an advertisement for the Acme Business College in the Seattle Republican. That could have been the approximate time that he met Alice. We have one hint that she was a teen at their meeting. While researching, we found an advertisement for a play that opened in 1998, Colours in the Storm, the Tom Thomson Musical, about his life and early death. In the cast of characters is: "Alice Lambert, 15, vivacious, unaffected, determined." That would sure be our Alice, which you will see as we detail her years as she matured. She was tall, pretty, stylish in her own way, vivacious, not one to be intimidated and had a fine mind — well-read and not afraid to flaunt it. We can imagine that they met somewhere in the advertising or art or theater world and Cupid shot them both through the heart. An artistic and Bohemian subculture was forming and that must have been a very exciting time in the young town, especially if you were in love.
      But if Tom thought that he would bowl over this country lassy, he was certainly proven wrong. Alice delivered the proverbial good news/bad news double whammy. She shot him down and may have oddly been the one responsible for him going back home to develop his talent for drawing and painting as well as commercial art. As the Canada Encyclopedia points out, the death knell for his Seattle tour came sometime in late 1904 or 1905:

      That he did not was likely the result of an incident involving Alice, 8 or 9 years his junior, to whom he proposed. At the crucial moment the effervescent Miss Lambert nervously giggled, causing the very sensitive Thomson to abandon his matrimonial ambitions and leave for Toronto. It was on his return from Seattle that he decided to become an artist.
Ruth Wilkins, the daughter of brother Ralph and Ruth, confirmed that story. Alice did have an alternate version of why Tom left in a hurry, however, again as recounted to Joan Murray. She said that a fellow boarder at the Shaw boarding house told her that another boarder, Horace Rutherford, told Tom that he had proposed to Alice and that she had accepted. In this version, Tom was so dismayed, because Rutherford had such a low character and what that would mean to Alice's future, that he lured Rutherford away on a long trip as a ruse, hoping that he would stay away and that Alice would forget about him. If that and her other memories of the romance sound as if they were straight from a summer beach novel, remember, Alice did write several romance books.

The legacy of Tom Thomson
      I would love to profile Tom the artist here in depth, but this is Alice's story. So I will just summarize his dozen years before his death so you can see what this emotional disappointment led towards. In March 1905, brother George sold Acme Business College, earned a law degree and headed to the east coast to study art and paint. He was ultimately employed in the bookkeeping field and his landscapes, especially the ones featuring autumn colors are still exhibited and sold, although he never achieved the acclaim of his brother. He returned to Owen Sound, Ontario in 1926. He was the family member who retrieved Tom's possessions and his artwork in 1917. Back in 1905, Tom returned to Ontario and became a senior engraver in Toronto and in 1906 he studied art and especially drawing at the Central Ontario School of Art and Design. In 1909, he was hired by Grip Limited, and became part of a circle of talented people there. That was the genesis of the "Group of Seven" artists who would become noted through the years for their drawings and paintings of landscapes, but the term was not adopted until after Tom's death. After that, they started to go on weekend sketching trips to lakes around Ontario. In 1911-12 he spent most of his free time painting at various lakes and Owen Sound and in May 1912 he traveled to Canoe Lake Station, Algonquin Park, the first step towards his destiny.
      His no-turning-back year dawned in 1913 when he sold his first paintings at two Ontario exhibitions, got a leave of absence to paint full time and was elected a member of the Ontario Society of Artists. His first major painting, A Northern Lake, established him as an up-and-comer. Over the next four years, he returned often to Lake Algonquin, and at age 36, became recognized as one of Canada's finest emerging painters. He developed a special technique of sketching quickly while out in natural settings and then finishing the painting in his studio. His earlier musical training also affected his art, as he explained to a friend, "Imperfect notes destroy the soul of music. So does imperfect colour destroy the soul of the canvas"
      In 1913 he started working as a ranger and a guide in Algonquin Park and became a skilled fisherman, boatman and hunter. Meanwhile the drums of war sounded in Europe and he last painted with the Group of Seven before the war in autumn of 1914. As war raged in Europe, Tom's life ended on July 8, 1917, and since then a debate has raged about whether he drowned while on a canoe trip or whether an unknown assailant murdered him. He was missing for a week and when his body was found, he had a head wound. One school contends that he stood up in the boat to relieve himself over the side and tumbled into the lake. Those who knew his skills as a canoer disputed that theory. While researching these divergent theories, I met a fellow historian, Ted Currie, who lives in that area and has spent many hours reading all the literature, including The Tom Thomson Mystery by Judge William Little. Judge Little excited many observers years ago when his party exhumed the supposed grave and discovered that Tom was not really buried there.
      The official inquest ended in a determination that he died in an accident; some deduced that he had stood up in a canoe to relieve himself. Others disputed that find, both because he was an expert lakesman and because of the ugly bruise across his temple. A whole scenario has developed, with a local hotelier as the possible murderer, a late night drunken brawl over owed money and romantic involvement with the man's wife. In that version, Tom was killed and the hotelier and his wife sloppily disposed of his body on the lake, under the Algonquin moon. Or the evil doer could have been an American cottager on the lake who had a row with Tom. Another story is overlaid of Tom's girlfriend at the time, mourning his death as she carried his baby, traveling to the U.S. to have the child and then returning, but mute about what really happened. The controversy will probably never be resolved, but the fascination with it exposes the guilty secret that we historians share. Although we devote our energies to sorting out fact from fiction, if you give us a melodrama or a juicy little mystery to chew on, we will turn off the lights, lock the house, hang a sign on our doors — "Gone Fishing," and head out to the hills to swim in the waters of romance and folklore. The loss of this talented artist at the age of 40, in such a senseless manner has doubtless contributed to his legend, but his art still lives on and is still collected and exchanged by collectors all over the world, as are the works of the Group of Seven.

A new chapter for Alice — wife and mother
Alice, Joe and baby Victoria in Portland, 1914. Courtesy of Lambert family.

      All that research naturally made us wonder how Alice reacted to the news. We have interviewed several people who knew her well and have read everything we can find, but we found that Alice rarely mentioned Tom to her friends later in life. In fact, most of Alice's written record is in the romance novels — three in all, that she wrote while living in New York City and in Darrington. A psychologist/historian may want to address that juxtaposition, but we will leave that to others. Alice claimed to have submitted two more novels to agents later in life, but Elizabeth never saw them. What we do know is that Alice continued working in the advertising world of growing, boisterous Seattle after Tom left and that she met Joseph E.) Ransburg, who also worked in an advertising office. That segment of Alice's life is difficult to track because we cannot find many written records and because she did not discuss it, so we will review what we found from various census reports and other material.
      Alice and Joe married in San Francisco in 1912, and their first daughter, Victoria, was born in September 1913 in Eureka, California. Alice mentioned to various people that she worked for William Randolph Hearst at various times, so she may have been at the San Francisco Examiner at that time. Joseph was born in Ohio and we know that his father was born in Maryland. We have found some Ransburg families in the Midwest but we have not yet made a connection. By the time that Josephine "Josie" was born in October 1916, the Ransburg family lived in Oregon. After the massive Spanish flu epidemic in 1918, Alice received rudimentary medical training and either worked or volunteered as a nurse, but we do not know where.
      The next record we have for Alice's life is her description to friends of the time that she and her husband and girls lived in the San Francisco area in 1926. She recounted that she reported on the disappearance of Pentecostal evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson from Los Angeles in May that year. Aimee was a colorful and controversial figure during that time, married for a second time and setting up a religious empire with the help of her equally controversial mother. They built a tremendous following with nearly two million supporting members of the Four Square Gospel Church at that time, with Aimee as the star each week in the 5,300-seat Angelus Temple. Newspapers throughout the world featured sensational headlines about how Aimee was kidnapped and possibly sold into white slavery by undefined swarthy people who meant her ill. She was soon discovered in Mexico and returned to Los Angeles, without ever explaining her odd disappearance. Alice reported the case for the Examiner at the time. She told Elizabeth that she had a column for Hearst that was similar to the later "Dear Abby," and that she worked between Seattle and San Francisco as a feature writer, so we are not sure if her husband and the children also lived there. Alice was quite taken with Hearst and she told her friends that she met his paramour Marion Davies at Hearst's castle at San Clemente. We wish we could have been a fly on the wall when she saw the movie, Citizen Kane, which mocked Hearst, Davies and the castle.

Alice strikes out on her own
(Hearst Castle)
The most exciting time of Alice's life was probably circa 1926, when she had yet to reach her halfway point. That was when she wrote for the San Francisco Examiner, which was owned by famed publisher William Randolph Hearst. She told friends and family that she often visited his castle (above) near San Clemente, California, which was called Xanadu in the fictionalized movie, Citizen Kane (1941)..

      By the time that the federal census was enumerated in June 1930, the family lived on Galen street in Seattle. Sometime after that, Alice began traveling up to Darrington on the weekends to camp out and she told family and friends that she intended to write books. Betty recalls Alice telling her that sometime in the early 1930s — probably 1932, she decided to leave her husband and daughters and she set out for New York to resume her writing career. That year also marked the death of her father, on May 27 at the veterans home at Retsil, Washington, when he was just short of age 90. In an obituary, he was quoted as writing to a correspondent in Fiji that, "as a veteran of the Civil War, 86 years old, and totally blind, I am an inmate of a Veterans home at Retsil, Washington, through financial losses imposed on me by swindlers."
      During her brief New York period, Alice wrote a book called Hospital Nocturne (Passion in San Francisco), which was published by Vanguard Press. Vanguard was a "vanity publisher," which printed books by self-published authors and then the author was responsible for promoting it. She wrote two more books, Lost Fragrance and Women are like that, also published by Vanguard in 1933 and 1934. All three have been republished by Dell and can be found on the Internet and used-book stores. They are all what would be called romance novels today. She may have written at least four more books, one a collection of her poetry, all apparently published by vanity publishers. Her granddaughter-in-law Linda Achimore quoted for us from Alice's divorce decree in 1933 that the principal reason for the divorce was Ransburg's disrespect of her writing and his alleged derision about it, at least from Alice's point of view. We now know that her ex-husband helped support her financially during the Depression years, as did her daughters.
      Alice returned to the Northwest after a year or so. Her instrument of expression changed from her pen to the microphone when KJR Radio in Seattle hired her. Her Darrington neighbor recalls a prominent photo of Alice from the society pages of the Seattle Times from 1933. But by 1935, Darrington was deep into the Depression and Alice was recorded in the records of the Darrington Pioneers Exchange [DPE] as being "unemployed and without resources." Elizabeth S. Poehlman tracked down the DPE records in the University of Washington archives years ago and discovered that Alice was one of the founding members of the DPE when it formed earlier in 1935. It was a non-profit, formed to provide members with both the necessities of life and a job, if possible. DPE sold lumber products, primarily cord word, and maintained a coop grocery store for the use of members. Her poverty was noted in the minutes from the June 18, 1935, meeting of the DPE board of directors and since she was secretary-treasurer at the time, we can safely assume that she wrote or edited the description of all the board members. Her job in New York was listed as freelance writer. She listed a teaching job for three months in the winter of 1935 and office and secretarial work "at various times" along with research and PR work. She also taught in the adult education division in the WERA.(Washington Emergency Relief Administration), a Depression-era program for local relief.
      She married a second time in about 1938 to a logger named Burdick whom she met in the Depression years, but they apparently lived together before that when he was a logger in Forks, Washington. Charles Schuster recalls that one of Alice's WERA projects involved a small Snohomish County lumber mill, where Burdick was the foreman.
      Once again, Alice married a man who had little in common with her literary aspiration. Nevertheless, they were together over a decade until they divorced sometime between 1946 and 1949. In letters she referred to him as Bert but his first name could have been George. They also lived on Vashon and Lopez islands at various time as well as Forks, in Clallam County, and in Darrington. She never discussed him with the close friends she later met in Darrington. We hope that a reader from the Burdick will write to us.
      Her daughter, Victoria, married and her younger daughter Josephine "Josie" went off to college. After divorcing his second wife, Joe moved to Hawaii, where he met and married his third wife and bought a failing advertising business and turned it into a profitable venture. Josie joined them there and she took over the business after Joe retired, also prospering with it. Joe died there in 1965. While in Washington, Josie visited her mother often at Darrington and they seem to have worked out some of their differences.
      We lose track of Alice during World War II, except that we know she was still married to Burdick because she wrote a letter to daughter Josie on Dec. 2, 1946, with the return address of "Alice Burdick, Forks, Washington" and describes a fishing trip that included the Burdicks and others. They must have been divorced sometime in 1947-48 because she wrote another letter to Josie on Feb. 11, 1949, from Santa Cruz, California, where she was alone and house-sitting. She told of her book in progress, High Lead, which, she claimed, her agent was pitching to Clark Gable and MGM, but she wanted to return to Darrington, where Edith Bedal had given her a cabin. In a letter on May 1 to Josie, she was still in Santa Cruz. There was no word of High Lead, but instead, another book, The Place, about "lost and desperate and heroic women" and articles that she is sure she will sell to popular magazines . . . but, oh by the way, she was flat broke and about to head north to hunt a job and make a new career, and thanks, Josie, for the food money.
      She did, indeed, head north on within a month and on June 16, 1949, she wrote from a weekly newspaper where she was writing, at Lost River Valley, Idaho, near the Craters of the Moon National Park. She was 63 that year and she bragged, " . . . the guys! I am the belle of the town, and have more dates that I can keep . . . .I am said to be blooming!" She said she had "those two books" off her chest, after "I was pregnant with them for ten years." We do not know how long she stayed there, but soon she was back in Darrington and this time she was hired by KRKO Radio in Everett and was a star there, with two broadcasts five days a week. As she would prove many times, Alice was a survivor even if her talk about books in her 60s and 70s appears to have been wishful thinking. Betty Knowles, who grew up in Darrington and still lives there with her husband, Don, remembers an occasion in 1952 when she was running for Timber Bowl queen.
      "That was when I met Alice. She appeared as we were all congregated, dressed all in pink, tall and imposing, and we became close friends soon afterwards. We would remain friends for nearly 30 years." Betty recalls her radio broadcasts as does Frances Caspers, who also lives in Darrington nearby Alice's old house. Her husband, Clarence, was a long-time history teacher there. Frances recalls that, after she and Clarence moved to Darrington in 1957, Alice added a bedroom onto what had started as a shack in the 1930s. The remodeling occurred when Alice's older sister, Edith, moved to live with her in her later years. Edith, who never married, became an invalid while living with Alice and she died in a rest home in Arlington in 1964. That is the only one of her siblings that any of her old friends recall visiting Alice in Darrington.

(Alice's cabin)
      This photo from the Lambert family shows the cabin near Darrington and Monte Cristo on property that Alice obtained from the Bedal family after becoming close friends with the Bedal sisters.

Epilogue and family, friends and neighbors
      That brings us full circle to when Elizabeth and Paul Poehlman drove into Darrington for the first time in 1966 and soon met Alice. After three decades Alice was already a local "character," at least one of which seem to be in each small town that we visit over the years. As far as we know, she lived alone after her sister died and until she moved into the Havenwood nursing home in Marysville in the late 1970s. Elizabeth shares her personal memories of Alice in an accompanying article. Alice made some very close friends, including Betty Knowles, whose grandfather William Ward Woodward moved his bride to Darrington on their honeymoon in 1907. They moved here to join his uncle Elmer and they stayed. Ward became the postmaster in 1917 and remained in his post for 48 years. Betty volunteered as a caretaker for Alice and her home during her last years.
      Arliss Abbott shared many memories about Alice, including one that intrigues us. Alice told her that when she was a young girl she traveled with her father to Victoria, B.C. and they visited a castle where her father met officials about schools in Canada. Her father described how the castle was similar to the one where he grew up in Ireland. Arliss recalled, "I just remember when I commented about the beautiful woman in the "Gibson Girl" drawing on her wall, she said that it was she and that the love of her life Tommy Thomson, the Canadian artist, had drawn it.
      Arliss is the widow of Darrington's beloved pharmacist, Elden Abbott, who was the subject of one of the funniest stories in Elizabeth's memories — the time that Elden violated Alice's well guarded privacy and had to face her wrath. Like others, Arliss recalled what a complex person Alice was. She could be officious and also very kind; stand-offish and guarded but very sharing with people she accepted as friends; and while she had a very big heart, she could also be petty in her judgment of strangers and her own family. One of her friends summed up Alice by concluding: "We all knew parts of Alice, but no one knew the whole person."
      Arliss also recalled in a recent letter that she remembered Alice mentioning Adela Rogers St. John being a friend and maybe co-worker of hers when she worked on Hearst's San Francisco Examiner. That would have been a most interesting friend. Rogers was the daughter of a prominent criminal lawyer, Earl Rogers, and she became famous for her ground-breaking work as Hearst's "girl reporter," as women in the business were then often called. She took time off from newspapers, during the period Alice was in California, to write a dozen screenplays, mostly for silent films and a number of bylined stories in prominent magazines, including Photoplay, in which she interviewed the movie stars of the day.
      Several of Alice's friends, including Betty, recalled that Alice became very close with Edith Bedal, whose Indian grandfather was the last chief of the Sauk-Suiattle Indian band, and whose mother was a revered Indian in the Sauk Prairie area. Edith's father was James Bedal, the 1890s homesteader who recreated his identity while living north of Darrington and Monte Cristo on the Sauk river. Elizabeth built on that friendship to interview both Edith and Jean Bedal, two of the most important Indian-descendant sisters in Washington state. Elizabeth shared two manuscripts with us that Alice wrote in later years in Darrington, one about Indian customs and the other about Tarheel country singing societies. We will share these in later issues.
      By the time that we finally tracked down Alice's friends and family, we were too late to meet her daughters. Victoria, the eldest, died in about 1994 and we know little about her at this point other than that she lived in California and has two living daughters, with whom we have started to correspond. Both Josie and Victoria lived with their mother in California at various times during and after their teen years.
      Betty Knowles gave us the crushing news that Alice's youngest daughter, Josie on Oct. 15, 2005, only a few weeks short of what would have been her 89th birthday. Betty recalled that Josie joined the U.S. Navy Waves after college, soon after the outbreak of World War II. But most important, Betty had the phone number of Josie's son Steve, an artist who lives near Syracuse, New York, and a few miles away from Josie's last home. We were most fortunate to find his wife, Linda, at home, and she shared memories of both her mother-in-law and Alice, including the story of how Alice and Tom Thomson met. They are still adjusting to Josie's passing and putting their lives back together, as all families do in these situations, but she promises to soon begin sorting through Josie's keepsakes, which include letters between various members of the family. We will update the story when Linda shares more of that information with us.
      As we mentioned early on, we want more people to learn about Alice, who lived 95 years and made such a mark on so many people's lives as well as on her last home, Darrington. David Dilgard of Snohomish kindly searched for Alice's obituary and reported that, "Sadly, the obit in the Everett Herald, which ran Feb 20, 1981, was pretty spare: 'Alice Eleanor Lambert died Feb. 19, 1981. Arrangements will be announced by Weller Funeral Home, Arlington.' " Her burial card at Darrington cemetery, west of town, reads simply, "Lambert, Alice Elinor, Jan. 8, 1886-Feb. 19, 1981."
      Elizabeth and Paul had moved away in 1973, long before Alice's death. Paul went on to pastor Kent First Baptist Church for 14 years and retired in 1998 from Fremont Baptist Church in Seattle after an 11-year ministry there. While they lived in Kent, Elizabeth researched and wrote her book. Darrington and the North Cascades still enchanted them, however, and they returned often to camp in the area with their sons and then built a very simple, small cabin there in 1981.
      "We now enjoy taking our grandchildren there," Elizabeth says. "We still have a small circle of friends there, but there are so many newcomers and so many kids all grown up that we often do not know people and people do not know us. My book is still sold at Darrington Pharmacy and at Sauk River Trading Post. They have been steady outlets for my book for years despite changes in ownership."

Poehlman's Book Dedication: "To Darrington, with love"
      We end the tale about this remarkable woman by sharing a humorous story that illustrates how everyone in Darrington who lived there permanently knew each other or at least experienced each other's presence. There are only a few places left like that in rural areas around the country. Alice's friends now bemoan that almost all the colorful old-timers are gone and that so many newcomers have moved in who do not share the camaraderie of the good old days. I hear the same thing here in Sedro-Woolley, where my folks brought me 58 years ago as a toddler. I can still recall unnamed Tarheel friends of my folks who used to visit every few months and showed up each time with mounds of food, a case of Oly stubbies and a jug of Everclear still-liquor. After a few snorts down by the spring, the father of the family would laugh about how he and his pa moved away from Woolley to Darrington after the war "cuz it was too damned civilized hereabouts, fulla flatland furriners" as Snuffy Smith said in the Sunday cartoon strip. At the beginning of Elizabeth's book — which is much like her love song for the town, she describes her first vision of it when she and Paul drove in for the first time:
      So this was Darrington. Kind of shabby. Very small. Very dreary under an almost-going-to-rain sky. "City center" consisted of one street, paved and with sidewalks, a combination of characteristics which set it apart from every other street in town. There were two grocery stores, a hardware store, drug store, variety store, post office and bank, a small clothing store, barber shop, two taverns, three gas stations, a small bowling alley, a real estate office, and a restaurant of sorts. At the east end of the main street, Gold Hill, rising like a giant roadblock.
      When you read Elizabeth's piece about Alice, you will find that she ends her recollection with the story of how the town's beloved pharmacist, the late Elden Abbott, innocently incited Alice's wrath. He felt so bad about his transgression that he decided to walk a few blocks over to her house and apologize. Read Elizabeth's wonderful vignette in the accompanying story. But Betty Knowles added even more color to the story. Elden was feeling sheepish enough and feared Alice's acid tongue. So he stopped along the way and enlisted the help of his friend and Alice's neighbor, Clarence Caspers. Betty chuckled as she recalled how Clarence agreed to accompany Elden but at the last moment, he waited out in front while Elden knocked on her door. Maybe those days when everyone knew all their neighbors in the town, but Darrington has retained some of their social institutions. For example, you can read in this Seattle P-I feature about how dozens of families gather for funerals of old timers and as many as 150 people organize pot-luck dinners where they reminisce. Those dinners are similar to the potlatch gatherings of local Indian tribes, but that story will come in a subsequent article.

Endnotes from above
Poehlman's Darrington book
      Darrington: Mining Town/Timber Town and is available from author Elizabeth S. Poehlman, 908 Browns Point Blvd. NE, Tacoma, WA 98422. Enclose a check made payable to her in the amount of $12.95 ($10.95 plus $2. 00 for tax, postage and handling). "This is a second printing done in 1995 with a new introduction and corrections but with no additional material. I did a second printing of my book in 1995 (with a few corrections but no additions to it) and still have a good supply of that second printing." [Return]

Lambert family in Oregon history
      M. Constance Guardino III researched pioneer families of Oregon territory, including Charles Lambert, in her book, Sovereigns Of Themselves. A Liberating History of Oregon and Its Coast. You can read her entire online history book at: users.wi.net/~census/lesson36.html [Return]

Andy Lambert, Irish genealogist
      Andy Lambert has an online genealogy website about the Lambert family that researches back for many generations in both Ireland and the U.S. [Return]

Thomson books
      Joan Murray. Tom Thomson, the Last Spring. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1994
      Joan Murray. Design for a Canadian Hero. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1998.
      Neil Lehto's book, Algonquin Elegy [Return]

Galleries featuring Thomson
      Until recently, Joan Murray was the executive director and CEO at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, 10365 Islington Ave., Kleinburg, Ontario L0J 1C0. We are indebted, as are many other researchers, to the sustained work by Ms. Murray to present Thomson's work and the research she has done. She is presently working on a full-color book on Canadian painter Laura Muntz Lyall. http://www.writersunion.ca/ww_profile.asp?mem=1047&L=
      The Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery is located at Owen Sound, Ontario and was established to celebrate the rich legacy of Tom Thomson, who grew up in the Owen Sound area. The site includes works by Thomson and the Group of Seven, biographies, photos, copies of their work and background information. It was produced under contract to Industry Canada. They have a comprehensive website packed with information at this address. [Return]

Bedal sisters
      Edith and Jean Bedal were packers into the North Cascades at the time that this was considered man's work only. They were honored five years ago in the Women's Legacy Project of Snohomish County in partnership with Snohomish County Heritage 2000. They had two siblings, Lucy, who died in 1918 of the Spanish flu. and brother Harry who became a legend himself as a mountain man in the Sauk-Suiattle area. Edith and Jean became elders of the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe and recorders of the Sauk language and history. Their organizational skills and ability to remember the history of the Sauk people were crucial in the successful effort to have the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe recognized by the federal government. Edith Bedal was honored in 1989 by the State of Washington as one of a hundred "State Centennial Artists," chosen for her artistry in basket weaving. The sisters also teamed up to write the book, Two Voices. Read more about them at this Journal site about the Bedal family and at this Snohomish county site and at this site about a private research project. Besides the cedar cabin that Edith gave to Alice sometime in the 1940s, she may have also donated the lot in Darrington where Alice's cabin was later erected. Alice's friend Betty Knowles told us that the house fell into disrepair in recent years and was razed in the summer of 2005.

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