West and Knapp Families Featured in the Everett Herald, Snohomish County, Washington

Everett Herald Article on our family history blog by Lorelle VanFossenThis morning, an article in the Everett Herald in Everett, Snohomish County, Washington, was published about this blog and my research into my family’s history in the Everett and Snohomish County area of Washington state.

Titled “Blogger digs into her roots: Snohomish County native works to uncover her family’s history,” the article quickly describes some of my family’s history related to the Snohomish County area on the Knapp and West sides.

For the most part, the article is correct, though the fun and adventure of my family’s history in Snohomish County is condensed due to the column’s limitations. Still, columnist Kristi O’Harran did a great job fitting in all the detail in the limited space, but I wanted to expand upon some of the story more here.

UPDATE: O’Harran just sent me an email with several names and contact information for people who recognized some of the people in the photographs from the article or know my family or has information to help me with my family history research. I’ll be calling them in the next day or so. I can’t wait. What a gift!!

The Story Behind The Story

Stirring the fires of a beach campfire - Elwell and Knapp family

This is from the Elwell/Knapp family archives, we'd love help identifying the people and place.

O’Harran found the stories told by Robert F. Knapp about Cooking On The Tug Boat Skagit Chief and Wayne Knapp’s Historical Data of the Knapp Family (as of 1984) on my family history blog, painting a picture of the early days of Snohomish County and the roles the Knapp and West family played in its rise.

She was fascinated by the West family’s role in protecting the coast of Washington State, my grandfather raising his kids first in Marysville then Friday Harbor, Washington, while he worked with the various naval military such as the Marines, Navy, and Lighthouse Brigade, which became the Coast Guard. She loved the stories of my father and his sister growing up in Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands in the lighthouse there.

What fascinated her most was the Knapp family’s connections with logging, Frye’s Lettuce farm, the Elwell family (with brothers Robert and Lloyd marrying into this family descended from Chief Seattle), and then both Robert and Wayne going into security, with Robert working the Monroe Penitentiary and Wayne at Seattle’s Boeing Security, key industries in the Pacific Northwest.

Snohomish County settlers Horace Harriman and Charles Elwell, but which one is which?

What the article didn’t have time to tell is the before and after the two family’s arrival in Snohomish County. Both sides of the family were adventurers, though not in the general sense of a single person doing adventurous things, but of a family sense. The Knapp family, thankfully for me, is one of the most researched family trees since their arrival in the new Americas in the 1600s. They held build what is now Connecticut and “civilization” into Indiana and Wisconsin before they were the last to turn out the light on logging in Northern Wisconsin in 1930, moving to Oregon then Washington State to find a new life with the destruction of their old ones. It does mention the family journal by Emma Knapp which I have in two versions, the original and chronological edited version, which tells a little of their life in Taylor Rapids, Wisconsin, but more of what there interests were, helping us learn more about the family.

The West family were part of a religious migration arriving with the Mayflower and splitting off south in what became the United States, with my branch breaking north into Canada, eventually following the Quakers to Raisin, Michigan. Several generations back, one ancestor broke from the mold of pious farming and community building to ride the rails to Oregon to the logging camps up and down the Pacific Northwest. His son, Walter, caught up with one of our recent family’s biggest mystery women, Louella Brunner Pinder Parrett and had a son with her. That son, Howard West Sr., ended up in a Catholic orphanage in Portland, Oregon, with his half sister, Carmen. Eventually, he got out, lied about his age, and joined the military, eventually leading him to the USS Arizona, from which he kept a log book from 1924-1925 which I’ve published on the blog for historical purposes. In it, he casually ends the log with his marriage to Faye Vaughn in a courthouse in California. He continued with the military at bases along the Pacific Coast until he finally reached Friday Harbor, then his last years as a guard at Chief Joseph Dam in Bridgeport, Washington, with his second wife, Anna Mae Larmar.

What’s missing is the legacy left by the descendants of both sides. I still know so little about my living relatives, but I can tell you that on the Knapp side, my mother, Ramona West Boylan Fletcher, became a leading real estate agent and broker, owner of the well-known American Properties agency in Everett, helping residents and immigrants “settle” and build in Snohomish County for almost 40 years. Her grandchildren recently graduated from high school and one is playing college baseball locally.

There are doctors, lawyers, writers, business owners, teachers, a fire chief, and more among their descendants who cover a lot of Snohomish County as well as Skagit, Whatcom, King, Pierce, and other counties in Washington State. Others are in Oregon, California, and elsewhere around the country and world.

Part of the story I also told the writer was about how tough it is to work on the family history blog without much help from the family. I do what I can, but it isn’t enough to record all the stories about family members to help paint a fuller picture of what our family’s history is really about, the whys, hows, and lessons learned along the way as they pushed themselves through their lives on this planet. I’d love more help, and it’s hard for people to understand how they can help, which is why I do so many articles describing how someone can contribute to a family history blog or start their own. It’s so important to preserve the past for today as well as the future generations who will have the same questions as we do now about where we came from.

If you would like to contribute to our family history blog, I’m looking for photographs, audio, video, stories, notes, legal documents, whatever it takes to help define a life. I’d love a biography written about every family member, dead or alive, that helps us preserve their story. Through the family history blog, I’ve been honored to connect with people whose family connected with ours recently and hundreds of years ago. I’ll take whatever anyone wants to contribute to help paint their family’s story and how it connects and intertwines with mine.

If our family isn’t related by blood but you recognize pictures of people or have any information on our family’s history, I’d still love to have your help.

It takes a village to raise a citizen, and it takes a village to help preserve that citizen’s history.

Thanks to the Everett Herald and Kristi O’Harran for sharing the story of my family history research and my family.

Most Recent Articles by Lorelle VanFossen

About Lorelle VanFossen

Lorelle VanFossen hosts Family History Blog covering her ancestors and related family members. She is one of the top bloggers in the world, and host of the Lorelle on WordPress, providing WordPress and blogging tips for bloggers of all levels. A popular keynote speaker and trainer, she is also editor, producer, contributor, and official disruptive thinker for Bitwire Media which includes WordCast, Making My Life Network, Stories of Our Journeys, Life on the Road, WordCast Conversations, and the very popular WordCast Podcast.
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