Seattle Now & Then: A Green Lake Midwife

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Midwife Alice Wood Ellis, far right, joins her mother and two children on the front lawn of their half-finished home in the East Green Lake neighborhood, ca. 1901. Courtesy Carol Solle
THEN: Midwife Alice Wood Ellis, far right, joins her mother and two children on the front lawn of their half-finished home in the East Green Lake neighborhood, ca. 1901. Courtesy Carol Solle
NOW: Left to right, Susan Fleming, Carol Solle, and Fleming’s two daughters, Annika and Kristina, pose for Jean Sherrard in front of the same home at 2130 N. 62nd Street. The healthy bush on the left made it impossible for Jean Sherrard to reach the prospect of the “then.”
NOW: Left to right, Susan Fleming, Carol Solle, and Fleming’s two daughters, Annika and Kristina, pose for Jean Sherrard in front of the same home at 2130 N. 62nd Street. The healthy bush on the left made it impossible for Jean Sherrard to reach the prospect of the “then.”

Alice Ellis, the pillar of this feature, stands far right in her apron.  Clara Wood, her mother, sits beside her on a bike at the front steps of Alice’s Green Lake neighborhood home, then still a work-in-progress at 2130 N. 62nd Street.  Both the children are Alice’s.  The standing toddler with the bonnet is Myrtle, and the laughing baby on the grass is Marie.  About fourteen years later the mother and two daughters posed for a studio portrait that is on the cover of the paperback book, Seattle Pioneer Midwife, Alice Ada Wood Ellis, Midwife, Nurse & Mother to All.  It is, in part, a biography of Alice, written by Susan E. Fleming, the laughing baby’s granddaughter and so also Alice Ellis’ great-granddaughter.

x-Cover-to-Seattle-Pioneer-Midwife-web-

In Jean Sherrard’s repeat, Susan Fleming stands far left holding Marie’s baby dress, while her cousin Carol Solle holds the baby’s bonnet. Early this summer Carol showed Jean and me this more than century-old snapshot. It is one of four photographs taken that happy afternoon, and it was hard to choose just one.  Another includes a peek at Green Lake, which is out of frame to the left.

Same day with a glimpse of Green Lake on the right.
Same day with a glimpse of Green Lake on the right.
Grandma standing at the door.
Grandma standing at the door.
A few years later with the birthing home added on the left.
A few years later with the birthing home added on the left.
A grown Myrtle standing on the sidewalk to the birthing house, with the original family home behind her.
A grown Myrtle standing on the sidewalk to the birthing house, with the original family home behind her.
The teenage daughters and, we imagine, some beaus. Behind them the first family home is posing too .
The teenage daughters and, we imagine, some beaus. Behind them the first family home is posing too .

We speculate that this front lawn snapshot (and two that follow the featured photo at the top) was taken in the spring or early summer of 1901, less than a year after this quartet took a winter train ride from Milwaukee to Seattle aboard a chilly coach of the Great Northern Flyer.  The relocation was to join the rest of the family: grandpa Pierson Wood and Beulah and Eddie, Alice’s older sister and brother, who had come to Seattle a half-year earlier to prepare the way.  Susan Fleming’s guess that grandpa Pierson Wood was holding the camera seems at least possible.  Fresh to Seattle, the fit senior was hired by the city to drive a street cleaner, a day-labor job he started at the age of sixty-nine and kept into his eighties. 

A new brevity about Grandpa Wood loaded with sensational headers but tailing with a near "never mind." Grandpa was not hurt - so bad. The clip dates from July 5, 1908. (Courtesy The Seattle Times as are most of the local clips used here.)
A new brevity about Grandpa Wood loaded with sensational headers but tailing with a near “never mind.” Grandpa was not hurt – so bad. The clip dates from July 5, 1908. (Courtesy The Seattle Times as are most of the local clips used here.)

Fleming recounts Alice’s brief married life with her shortly-divorced husband Gideon Ellis, including their time together in Deadwood, South Dakota.  It was in that infamously wild frontier town that Alice first both donated and marketed her skills in nursing and delivering babies for pregnant prostitutes.  Fleming’s book is also replete with evocative birthing stories, some from her great-grandmother’s tending to the pregnant prostitutes of Seattle and from the Yukon and Alaska in their Green Lake home.  Fleming’s authority in enriching these stories with midwifery practices, lore and testimonies comes not only through her family but also her research in birthing and over thirty years as a registered nurse.  This descendant of a pioneer midwife received her PhD in 2011 and is presently an Assistant Professor at Seattle University College of Nursing.  Her book can be found in bookstores. 

A May 5, 1908 clip about the surprise visit from Naval Machinist Gideon Ellis while he was in port visiting with Theo Roosevelt's Great White Fleet. Gideon was the father of Myrtle and Marie.
A May 5, 1908 clip about the surprise visit from Naval Machinist Gideon Ellis while he was in port visiting with Theo Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet. Gideon was the father of Myrtle and Marie. We don’t know how The Times got the story nor who inspired its optimism and hope for a new beginning for the separated family.

WEB EXTRAS

Additions, lads?  Yup Jean, Ron and I have harvest from the field of past features a sample of relevance.   Some of these will be the “same old story.”  Click to open each.  There are within, we think, certain delights.

green-lake-jan-1916-skatersmr

Courtesy, Lawton Gowey

Temporarily untended the Good Shepherd orchard awaits its fate, ca. 1978.

edgewater-nef-40-then-mr

https://sherrlock.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/lincoln-h-s-fistfight-then-mr1.jpg?w=752&h=515

4719 Thackeray Place NE. The 1938 WPA tax photo.

=====

NEARBY NEIGHBOR  – First Appeared in PACIFIC,  Oct. 7, 2001

clip-Green-Lake-Home-Corliss-N.-60th-WEB2

=====

THE PATH FROM FREMONT – First Appeared in PACIFIC JAN. 27, 1991

clip-Green-Lake-S.-End-Snow-w-McDonald-home-1-27-1991-WEB

=====

WHERE MYRTLE & MARIE WENT TO SCHOOL – First Appears in PACIFIC, AUG. 7, 1994

clip-Green-Lake-School-on-65th-8-7-1994-WEB

=====

THE EAST SHORE

The sisters somewhere on the - most likely east shore of Green Lake near their home and before the lake was lowered in 1911.
The sisters somewhere on the – most likely east shore of Green Lake near their home and before the lake was lowered in 1911.
Most of the east shore in a detail from the 1908 Baist Resl Estate Map. North 62nd Street, with footprints of its homes, appears near the bottom of the detail. The blue-green footprint of Green Lake School at 65th and Sunnyside is found at the northeast corner of N. 65th Street and Sunnyside Avenue.
Most of the east shore in a detail from the 1908 Baist Resl Estate Map. North 62nd Street, with footprints of its homes, appears near the bottom of the detail. The green footprint of Green Lake School at 65th and Sunnyside rests left-of-center at the northeast corner of N. 65th Street and Sunnyside Avenue.  CLICK CLICK for the DETAILS of the DETAIL. (Courtesy, Historic Seattle.)

z clip East-Green-Lk-FILL-WEB copy

z clip-1911-Green-Lk-regrade-east-side-WEB

The Big Snow of Feb. 1916 also froze-over Green Lake.
The Big Snow of Feb. 1916 also froze-over Green Lake.  This and the “now” scene below it were photographed from the east shore five years following the lowering of the lake.  The feature  that studies this “repeat” is include in at least one of the attached or linked features above.   CLICK CLICK

z 1916-SNW-NOW-greenlake-from-below-kirkwood-WEB

=====

THE LOST BAY

First appeared in Pacific, Jan 16, 1994.
First appeared in Pacific, Jan 16, 1994.
The snaking dirt platform for supporting the narrow-gauged railroad used to fill in the bay. Note both the new Green Lake Library and Bethany Lutheran Church, one block to the left of the library.
A snaking dirt platform for supporting the narrow-gauged railroad used to fill in the bay. Note both the new Green Lake Library and Bethany Lutheran Church, one block to the left of the library.
First appeared in Pacific, April 25, 1999.
First appeared in Pacific, April 25, 1999.
The nearly new Green Lake Branch, Seattle Public Library.
The nearly new Green Lake Branch, Seattle Public Library.

y

4 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: A Green Lake Midwife”

  1. As an old Seattle boy, I enjoy remnants of the past, Hardwick’s is an example.
    What others would you suggest?
    We’re thinking of a bike tour.

    Andy Goulding
    206 384 9739

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s