Seattle Now & Then: Woman’s Relief Corps, 1908

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: Twenty-two members of the Bothell post of the Woman’s Relief Corps (and two men) sit and stand outside the 1893 William Hannan home in Bothell in 1908. Standing, from left: Josephine Bothell Burns, Della Bothell Young, Etta Adams, Isabelle Woody, Kitty Burgess, Ida Anderson, May Bothell Platner, Alta Elliott Violet Hanschel, Mrs. (first name unavailable) Ellis, Neal Bothell Baley, Jemima “Mima” Hannan (wife of William) and Rachel Keener. Seated on chairs, from left: Amy Campbell, Maggie Dutton, Aunt Bessy (last name unavailable), Mrs. S.F. Woody Sr. and Grandma Annis (full name unavailable). Seated in front, from left: unknown, Marie Campbell, Bertha Dutton Ross and Hannah Staples. At rear left are homeowner William Hannan and, to his right, son Almon Hannan. (Courtesy Bothell Historical Museum)
NOW: Repeating the pose at the William Hannan home, now situated at Bothell Landing and housing the Bothell Historical Museum (, are 18 women, four girls and a man, including several descendants of historical city figures. Complete identifications follow. Standing, back left: Bill Carlyon, great-grandson of Bothell pioneers William and Jemima Hannon and grandson of Gladys Hannan Worley, their daughter, who was born and married in the parlor. Standing, from left: Pat Pierce, Jill Keeney, Jeanette Backstrom, Sue Kienast, Melanie Carlyon McCracken (daughter of Bill and Emmy Carlyon and great, great granddaughter of the Hannans), Pippin Sardo, Emmy Carlyon (wife of Bill Carlyon), Margaret Turcott, JoAnne Hunt, Linda Avery, Margaret Carroll, Mary Evans and Pamela McCrae. Seated, from left: Terry Roth, Iva Metz, Carol King, Nancy Velando and Mary Anne Gibbons. Children in front, from left: Wendy Stow (Linda Avery’s granddaughter) and Camille, Evelyn and Mira McCracken (great, great, great granddaughters of the Hannans). Camille and Evelyn flank a life-size doll. (Jean Sherrard)

Published in The Seattle Times online on July 28, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on July 31, 2022

Born of war, Woman’s Relief Corps fed nation’s ‘higher sphere’
By Clay Eals

One of my mentors — the late Elliott Couden, an open-housing advocate in the 1960s who 20 years later founded the Southwest Seattle Historical Society — once lamented that as a boy, he had to learn history by memorizing timelines keyed mostly to wars. “We didn’t get very much into what relation we as individuals have to this society,” he said.

NOW: Historian Richard Heisler at Bothell Pioneer Cemetery. For info on his Aug. 3 talk, click here. (Clay Eals)

He could have been reading the mind, and heart, of Richard Heisler. During the pandemic, the energetic equestrian artist and historian, 49, focused his research on the estimated 3,500 Civil War veterans and their families who migrated to King County near the turn of the 20th century. Heisler, of Bothell, has unearthed direct links between these vets and the rise of the town east of Lake Washington’s northern tip.

Nationally, starting in 1866, many of the war’s surviving Union soldiers formed the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) fraternal organization. In 1883, their wives, along with daughters and other descendants and supporters, began gathering in posts of an auxiliary, the Woman’s Relief Corps (WRC).

THEN: An alternate view of the Woman’s Relief Corps gathering at the William Hannan house in 1908. (Courtesy Bothell Historical Museum)

The Bothell WRC post began in 1902, and 22 of its members (plus two discreetly positioned men) populate our “Then” photo from 1908. They pose outside the city’s 1893 William Hannan home, which stands today at Bothell Landing along the Sammamish River, a half-mile west of its original site. Pristinely restored, it houses the Bothell Historical Museum.

NOW: At Bothell Pioneer Cemetery, the two-sided monument for David and Mary Ann Bothell includes a Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) insignia for David and a Woman’s Relief Corps (WRC) insignia for Mary Ann. The FCL acronym on Mary Ann’s side indicates the GAR and WLC slogan: “Fraternity. Charity. Loyalty.” (Clay Eals)

Bothell, the city, derives from a family by the same name. Heisler pointedly notes that the only graphic symbols on a Bothell Pioneer Cemetery monument for founder David Bothell (1820-1905) and his wife Mary Ann (1823-1907), parents of George, the city’s first mayor, are of the GAR for David and WRC for Mary Ann.

Other local luminaries had ties to the war’s Union forces and their abolitionist, Lincoln Republican ways of thinking, Heisler says. “We think it was all so distant,” he says, “but many veterans and their families came west and walked the streets all over this county.”

WRC posts produced patriotic Memorial Day observances, installed flags and monuments and even supported women’s suffrage. At an 1885 Seattle gathering, the GAR’s J.C. Haines saluted their role: “We welcome you because you have demonstrated that woman has a higher sphere than any that man can ever lay claim to — a sphere as broad as human sorrow, as lasting as humanity itself.”

Today, the WRC has receded locally, but it lives on in Heisler’s talks, including one set for 6 p.m. Aug. 3, at the Bothell Library, for the Bothell museum. “This is not an abstract thing,” he says. “These are people.”


Thanks to Bill Woodward, Pat Pierce, Jill Keeney and especially Richard Heisler for their help with this installment!

To see Jean Sherrard‘s 360-degree video of the “Now” prospect and compare it with the “Then” photos, and to hear this column read aloud by Clay, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column.

Below are two additional photos, two videos and 22 historical clips from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) and Washington Digital Newspapers, that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

THEN: Complete with a live Statue of Liberty, a 1908 Bothell Independence Day float salutes the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). The FCL flag stands for: “Fraternity. Charity. Loyalty.” (Courtesy Bothell Historical Museum)
NOW: In this alternate view, posing before the William Hannan home (now headquarters of the Bothell Historical Museum) are, standing from left, Pamela McCrae, Jill Keeney, JoAnne Hunt, Margaret Carroll, Emmy Carlyon, Terry Roth, Margaret Turcott, Pat Pierce, Mary Evans and Bill Carlyon and, seated from left, Nancy Velando, Mary Anne Gibbons, Carol King, Camille McCracken, Melanie Carlyon McCracken, Mira McCracken, Iva Metz, Pippin Sardo and Evelyn McCracken. Historian Richard Heisler peeks over umbrella at left. (Jean Sherrard)
VIDEO (14:00): Click the image above to see historian Richard Heisler describe the Civil War connections to early leaders of Bothell, Washington, at Bothell Pioneer Cemetery. (Clay Eals)
VIDEO (2:12): Click the title card above to see three Bothell residents talk about the importance of their ties to the past. (Clay Eals)
March 27, 1884, Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
April 16, 1885, National Tribune, weekly for Civil War veterans and families.
Oct. 2, 1887, Seattle Star.
Sept. 18, 1888, Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Aug. 27, 1896, Seattle Times, page 8.
July 27, 1898, Seattle Times, page 8.
Feb. 26, 1899, Seattle Times, page 6.
Feb. 28, 1899, Seattle Times, page 1.
May 30, 1899, Seattle Times, page 2.
June 24, 1899, Seattle Times, page 14.
March 10, 1900, Seattle Times, page 17.
Nov. 1, 1899, Seattle Times, page 4.
June 25, 1901, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p12.
March 1, 1902, Seattle Star.
May 31, 1902, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p10.
March 2, 1902, Seattle Times, page 39.
July 14, 1963, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p13.
July 14, 1963, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p10B.
Oct. 24, 1966, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p19.
June 4, 1975, Seattle Times, page 35.
April 15, 1973, Seattle Times, page 101.
March 19, 1976, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p41.
May 28, 1978, Seattle Times, page 14.




3 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: Woman’s Relief Corps, 1908”

  1. Had to look up the names of these ladies to see if there was any clue as to why the two on each end of the photo are wearing the exact same dress? Any idea?

    1. Either both dresses were sewn by the same dressmaker and/or are related, or the local general store got more than one ready-made dress of the same fabric.

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