Monday, May 18, 2015

Tika & Mary Ethel Leverich Oswald, 1886-1967

Tika wants to teach us today about the value of writing down your family stories. This story is about my hubby's grandmother.  He always remembers the story told to him by his mother, Esther Mary, about the time she was a pre-teen and her grandaunt, Sarah Esther Leverich, came to visit the family on the farm near Spokane. Esther tells how each child recieved a shiny silver dollar from "Aunt Doll" as she was called. Esther carried hers to the outhouse (when nature called) and accidently dropped her prize down the hole. She was mortified and told nobody......... at least at the time. Stories! How wonderful.

Mary Ethel Leverich, born in the middle of a sweltering July day in 1886 in Danville, Vermilion County, Illinois, was the first child of a prosperous merchant farmer.  When she was 25, in 1901, she did what many well-bred young ladies of the time did: she took a trip out west. She did not go alone (heavens!) but was accomplanied by her maiden aunt, Sarah Esther Leverich, only nine years her senior.

They traveled by train and Mary Ethel kept a diary. The train made a long stop in Gardiner, Montana, where the two ladies boarded a stagecoach for a tour of Yellowstone Park. They went through this large stone arch, planned at the time to be the official gateway to the park.

We have a photo of the ladies standing beside their stagecoach in front of the Yellowstone Park Lodge. Likely there was no other lodging available.

Back on the train, there is an entry in her diary that reads, "Met Mr. Oswald in the dinner line on the train."

John Peter Oswald and Mary Ethel Leverich were married on 21 July 1911 in her hometown, Danville, Illinois, and immediately returned to the west. They first lived a short time in Butte, Montana, and then settled in the northeast suburb of Spokane, Washington, called Hillyard. John Peter worked for the railroad and that's where the plant was that crafted the engines and was also a major railroad hub.

In late 1912 when Mary Ethel was expecting their first child, the family story went that she wanted to raise her children on a farm as she had been raised. As I delved further into the history of Spokane, I learned that the "White Death" (tuberculosis) was rampant in most all American cities and Spokane was no exception. I think Mary Ethel and John Peter chose to move to the far west side of Spokane on a section of land whichw as then far out of the city.

Mary Ethel lived in the home they made for 55 years (or nearby with her daughter) until her death in 1967. (John Peter died in 1946.) Together they raised five children: Esther Mary, Ralph Eugene, Dorothy Rose, Gilbert Leverich, and John Myron "Mike." All lived, grew and thrived and their descendants now number many.

My hubby and I now live about three miles from the old farmstead and we drive by there often. It is still owned by a member of the family. Nice warm-fuzzy memories.

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