Saturday, September 17, 2016

Maida Estella Beals Walton, RN, ANC, 1892-1962

On March 18, 1892 Oliver Templeton Beals and his wife, Alice Belle Patrick, welcomed their second child, Maida Estella, in the small town of Days Creek, Oregon, located south of Roseburg.   She joined her older brother Oliver Clifton who was born in 1887; one year after the couple wed.  The family would continue to grow welcoming Elva on January 18, 1894; Ora Fern on December 6, 1897; Floy Edna on February 2, 1901; and Lloyd on June 5, 1905.

Beginning in 1899, Maida attended school at the Days Creek School.  She exceled during her time at school as was evident by a newspaper article from 1905 that reported Maida and her brother had made the Roll of Honor for the first through third months of the year.

Education remained central to Maida’s life.  She first attended the State Normal School in Monmouth, Oregon from 1906 to 1908 and then enrolled at the Oregon Agriculture College (O.A.C.) in Corvallis, Oregon in 1909.  While at the O.A.C., she studied pharmacy and was a member of the Pharmacy Association.  In 1911, Maida traveled to Portland to attend the Oregon Board of Pharmacy meeting; where she took and passed an examination to become a pharmacy assistant.

Image Credit: Ancestry User Lloyd (lsafley168)
By 1910, Maida’s family had moved to Corvallis where her father Oliver opened his blacksmith shop.  While attending school, Maida continued to live at home with her parents. The photo to the right shows Maida standing on the porch of their Corvallis house with her parents, sisters Alice and Floy, and brother Lloyd.

Maida left the comforts of her Corvallis home and moved to Seattle around 1912 to again further her education by entering the nursing training program at Seattle General Hospital.  She graduated from the program on June 2, 1915. A week later, the Washington State Board of Examiners of Nurses approved Maida’s application to become a Registered Nurse.

Maida stayed in Seattle and found work as an assistant to Don H. Palmer, physician and Vice President of the Washington State Medical Association.  On May 15, 1918 Maida enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps and was sent to Fort Riley, Kansas.   In September of that year, she made the journey to begin her foreign service at Base Hospital Unit 50 in France during World War I.

The July 19, 1919 Daily Gazette Times in Corvallis, Oregon announced on the front page that “Miss Beals Returns”.  It reported that Maida had arrived safely in New York and that her parents were excited for the reunion with their daughter.  Six days later, the Seattle Star announced that that Maida and five of her fellow nurses arrived in Seattle by train, welcomed by many of their family and friends.  Following her return, she found work in Seattle as an assistant to Howard J Knott, physician and secretary of the King County Medical Society.

Maida would find herself back in New York City to marry William Walton, a soldier she had met while on duty in France.  They married on May 31, 1921 in St. Paul’s Church, the same church “where the flag of Base Hospital Unit No. 50…was dedicated and the last service held before the Unit departed for service overseas” .  On March 25, 1922, William and Maida welcomed a son, William P., their only child, in New Jersey.

Tragedy struck Maida on November 30, 1924 when her sister Ora Fern passed away from complications of a sinus infection at the young age of 26.  Like her sister, Ora became a nurse and had spent time at Seattle General Hospital. She had spent time living with her Maida during her time in New York.

Maida lost another family member when her mother, Alice Patrick, passed away in Corvallis on May 15, 1926 at the age of 59.

By the 1930, Maida returned to the Pacific Northwest. She found work as a nurse at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Walla Walla, Washington which was dedicated to treating veterans with tuberculosis.  Her husband William joined her out West but by 1930 the couple was living in separate households.

William and Maida divorced in the early 1930s and by 1933 William had remarried to Gladys Reynolds.  Just four years later on January 15, 1937, William passed away at the age of 44.

On Easter Sunday 1944, Maida’s father Oliver Templeton Beals passed away in Corvallis, Oregon after coming down with hypostatic pneumonia.

Maida remained in Walla Walla for the remainder of her life.  She passed away one day before her 70th birthday on March 17, 1962.  She is buried at Mountain View Cemetery in Walla Walla.

Her son William attended Whitman College in Walla Walla and then went on to have his own career in the Army rising to the rank of Major in the Korean War.   He passed away on December 5, 1987 in Alameda, California and is buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Francisco.

1. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004. Place: Canyonville, Douglas, Oregon; Roll: 1346; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 0056; FHL microfilm: 1241346. 
2. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2006. Census Place: Corvallis, Benton, Oregon; Roll: T624_1278; Page: 7B; Enumeration District: 0001; FHL microfilm: 1375291. 
3. Washington State Department of Licensing, Business and Professions Division, Registered Nurses Licensing Files. Box 18. App No. 872. Online 2009. Washington State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State. 
4. Oregon Agricultural College. The Orange (Yearbook). Vol 5 (1910/1911 academic year).   1912. Page 112.  Accessed: 
5. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011. Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1913-1916, 1918-1921
6. Nursing News and Announcements. July 1918. Page 912-913 URL:
7. Nursing News and Announcements. September 1918. Page 1195 URL:
8. Nurses Welcome Home to Seattle. The Seattle Star. Friday, July 25, 1919 Page 3 URL:
9. Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1919. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.
10. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010.Census Place: Seattle, King, Washington; Roll: T625_1925; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 67; Image: 588.  
11. NYC Brides Record Index. Maide Beals. May 31, 1921. Certificate No. 12982. URL:
12. Certificate of Death. Oregon State Board of Health. Ora Fern Beals. State Registered No. 135 Local Register No. 124.  Accessed at:
13. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2002. Census Place: Walla Walla, Walla Walla, Washington; Roll: 2523; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 0016; Image: 200.0; FHL microfilm: 2342257. 
14. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012. Census Place: Walla Walla, Walla Walla, Washington; Roll: T627_4367; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 36-48. 
15. Walla Walla, Washington, City Directory, 1933-1935. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.
16. U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1963 [database on-line].  Maida Beals Walton. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012. 
17. Certificate of Death. Oregon State Board of Health. Alice Bell Beals. State Registered No. 55 Local Register No. 39.  Accessed at:
18. U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1963 [database on-line]. William P. Walton. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.
19. Washington State Death Certificate Index 1907-1960. William P. Walton. URL:
20. “Oliver T. Beals Dies on Easter Sunday”. Corvallis Gazette Times Monday, April 10, 1944 Page Six
21. Standard Certificate of Death. Oregon State Board of Health. Oliver Templeton Beals. State File No. 58 Local Register No. 62.  Accessed at:
22. "Nurse weds War Veteran" Corvallis Gazette-Times (Corvallis, Oregon) ·  Sat, Jun 11, 1921 ·  Page 6
23. Photos. Family Trees. User: lsafley168 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Alie Enger, RN, ANC, 1890-1925

Special thanks to Mary E. Burman, Alie's great niece, 
who contributed this entry.

In 1920, the year women finally got the vote in the United States, Alie Enger homesteaded on a hilly piece of land near Melrose, Oregon.  She had returned the year before from France where she served as a nurse with Army Base Hospital #50 (BH#50) along with her sister Jennie Enger, who at about the same time in 1920, bought a house in Wenatchee, Washington.  Alie (pronounced “Ollie” according to family members) smiles shyly in a photograph taken in front of a cabin presumably on her new property.

She married Ralph Petrequin in November later that year.   He had a land patent nearby where he raised potatoes, corn, and beans and had an orchard with loganberries and strawberries.  He had some success noting in the final proof for his homestead that in 1914 “The garden was good, but the corn and beans did no good, it was too dry”. He also worked at the Voorhies Prune Dryer in Lookingglass near Melrose  and was listed in 1920 as a laborer in the home of his mother and step-father.  Alie looks happy in pictures with her new husband and her mother-in-law and must have felt that life was good.

Sadly, she died 5 years later in 1925 at the age of 35 of chronic nephritis and anemia on August 7,  the night before her sister, Jennie, gave birth to a son.  Their younger brother Martin had recently died in December 1924 of “intestinal nephritis”.   Alie and her sister were a little over a year apart in age, grew up together on the farms in Bellingham and Everson, had gone to nursing school together at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Bellingham, Washington, and served together in the Army Nurse Corps in France. The mixture of joy and sadness must have been difficult for Jennie and the other Engers.

Few alive today remember Alie and there are few family stories. But here is what is known, pieced together from a variety of sources.  She was born in Seattle on November 14, 1890 the second child (out of 11 children) of Stengrim and Anne Enger, immigrants from Norway.  She was baptized on February 15, 1891 according to the records of the US Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.  She grew up in Bellingham and Everson where her father was a dairy farmer. She had the equivalent of 8 years of schooling and one year of normal school.

In 1910, she was a boarder in the home of a family in Bellingham  shortly before starting her 3 years of nursing training. St. Joseph’s hospital had 200 beds at that time and she had regular lessons and lectures on topics such as surgical, medical, gynecological, and contagion nursing.   She was also sent out to do private duty nursing while in training. She and Jennie graduated in September 1914 and she applied for registration as a nurse in Washington shortly before that.

She appears to have worked as a nurse prior to WWI.  She, Jennie, and several other nurses are pictured in their nursing uniforms in front of Benjamin Shurtleff Hospital in 1916 in Napa, California.  The hospital had just opened in 1910, named for a prominent attorney and justice of the California Supreme Court.

On March 20, 1918, she entered the Army Nurse Corps.  According to her sister Jennie’s diary, Alie went to Camp Lewis after she enlisted, joining the rest of the BH#50 nurses in New York City before embarking for France.  She served with the rest of BH#50 at Mesves Bulcy and also provided care at the Evacuation Hospital No. 31 at Nantes France before mustering out on June 6, 1919.

After the war, she lived with her family in Bellingham working as a trained nurse in a hospital. She had a busy family and social life based on Jennie’s photo album. Alie and her brother John’s wife Gertie are pictured climbing up a snow covered slope and camping at Skyline Camp in 1919.  In 1923, she’s pictured at an Enger family reunion at 626 High Street, the boarding house that her mother ran in Bellingham.

However, what stands out after the war is her move to Oregon.  What prompted her to move to Oregon?  Did she already know Ralph when she moved or did she meet him after she homesteaded?  What plans did she and Ralph have for their life together?  What adventures did she have in mind, given that she seems to have liked excitement and adventures?

Regrettably, the answers to these questions may never be known. Like all of the women who served in BH#50, Alie was a unique person with her own life with dreams and adventures in mind, a daughter, sister, soon to be a homesteader and wife.  Like all of the women, her service at AB#50 was a most likely a life-changing chapter in her story.  Her move to Oregon to homestead may have been an adventure inspired by her experience in France during World War I.  

Mary E. Burman

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Jennie Enger, RN, ANC, 1889-1967

Special thanks to Mary E. Burman, Jennie's granddaughter, 
who contributed this entry.

“The next day we were put on duty in the Pontenasian Barracks within the walls Napoleon built. I was put in a pneumonia and flu ward. Honestly, I never saw so many very sick men in my life. It actually made tears come to one’s eyes to see them delirious and dying. But I just had to brace up and do my best. Many of them were in just a few days before they passed away. A nurse in the ward we left was a flu victim, too. Even though she was not of our unit, we felt so badly.” Jennie Enger, Diary, 1918

On May 31, 1918, Jennie Enger signed the oath of the US Army and thus began her journey to France with Army Base Hospital #50 (BH#50). Jennie was born March 13, 1889 in Seattle to Stengrim and Anne Enger, both from Norway, who were married a year earlier in Seattle. She was baptized May 12, 1889 according to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. She was the oldest of 11 siblings. The family moved from Seattle to Bellingham and then to Everson where her father farmed. She and her sister Alie, who was a year younger, attended nursing school at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Bellingham and in May 1914, they submitted their applications for certificate as a registered nurse in Washington. Following the war, she lived with family in Bellingham, bought a house of her own in Wenatchee (the Warranty Deed refers to her as a “spinster”) and then married Adolph Burman in 1924 relocating to Laramie, Wyoming where he worked for the Union Pacific in a railroad tie treatment plant. Following his retirement in 1941, she returned to Everson where she lived until her death in 1967.

Jennie kept a brief diary during the year of service to the Army Nurse Corps and it provides some interesting insights into her experiences. The first page reads, “Jennie Enger BH#50 Diary of Army Life, 626 High Street.” In addition, she kept a several other documents. According to her United States of America War Department Certificate of Identify, she was authorized to accompany Base Hospital Unit #50 as a Nurse. She was 29 years old, weighed 111 ½ pounds, was 67 ¾ inches tall, and had blue eyes and yellow hair.

Jennie left June 1st for Camp Grant in Illinois to prepare for her military service. While there she was vaccinated for typhoid, paratyphoid and smallpox. She then traveled to New York City to join her sister Alie and the other nurses with BH#50. While in the city, they purchased their equipment, and did some drilling and training, including French language training, while suffering through a record hot and humid August. Fortunately, they also had fun with Red Cross taking them to some shows and sightseeing trips to the Woolworth Building, Hudson River, and Stock Exchange.

On August 24th, they boarded the LaFrance and left New York the next day. The ship was accompanied by subchasers and a submarine was spotted near the 3 ships in the convoy at one point. Shots were fired and the sub disappeared much to Jennie’s relief. On September 3 at around 5 pm they arrived at Brest France where they were taken by truck to “Camp 23”, a new facility that had never been used with “shavings around.” The ride was unforgettable as they were greeted by the French people as they drove through Brest.

About 25 of the nurses were “suffering from bad colds” and were put to bed when they arrived in France. The rest of the nurses went on to their base at Merves-Bulcy. Jennie was later diagnosed with Spanish influenza. She was kept in bed for a week and not allowed to go for a walk for 5 days after that.

Upon her recovery, she (along with the other nurses who had stayed in Brest) were put on duty in the Pontenasian barracks, although 5 days later they had orders “to go to their own Base. Indeed, we were a happy bunch!” She was on duty with ABH#50 the day after her arrival. “How I watched the boys’ faces as they came in from the front to see if I knew anyone, but I never found one I knew. I can never forget how patient and grateful the boys were.”

On November 4th, Jennie was taken to the Nurses’ Ward at Base Hospital #54 as a patient unable “to get anything to eat that agreed with me”. She was off duty for two weeks and felt “it was terrible to be off duty so long.” Shortly after her recovery, she and Alie received word that their younger brother Harold had died in Washington of influenza. “It was hard at first, but we were not the only ones as one of our other girls also lost her brother.”

After working on a flu and pneumonia ward again for about four weeks, Jennie “was not sorry to go to a surgical ward with Miss McConaghy in charge.” She stayed there until the ward was closed when the nurses were given the option of staying longer in France or going home. “Alie wished to stay and I would have preferred to go home. However, when orders came for fifty girls to go to Nantes, I was put on as a substitute, and I was glad.”

They left Mesves Sunday January 26th. The trip to Nantes took about two days with a 24 hour stopover in Saumur where Jennie wrote they “had a wonderful time. An aviator lieutenant we met on the way was a regular hero, and we do not know what we would have done had it not been for him. He helped us with our baggage and saw that we all got seats. The next day we met him on the way to an old castle, and afterwards we all had dinner together. He stayed over at Saumur especially to help us”.

At Nantes, Jennie worked on a surgical ward with Miss Cramer and Miss Cooke. Then she moved to a Fracture ward with Miss Walker in charge. “Most of the time the work was quite heavy and because it was “too much” for her, she was put on a pneumonia ward where the “boys were so sick.” She was put in charge of diets which she really enjoyed. Fortunately, she and the other nurses had time to enjoy the area. They saw “a big heart-shaped case where the heart of Ann of Brittany is kept” and visited the castle where Bluebeard was imprisoned. On February 3, General Pershing visited their camp.

Eventually, Jennie received her orders to head back to the US. She was transferred to Savenay by ambulance and “when we were about halfway there, Miss McConaghy and I discovered we were being sent as patients! Alie went with us, and we were made fun of when we had to be examined after we got there because we had no field cards. I was a little nervous, but the doctor made up something and put it down.” (picture of fake card).

“We arrived at Kerhoun about 3:15 pm Monday and were driven up to Base Hospital 65. Of course, we were put on the nurses’ wards. We went to bed early that night and had a nice long sleep.” Then Jennie and the others waited. “March 19—we are still awaiting orders to go home”. “March 25—At last orders are for us to pack and be ready at a moment’s notice.”

She and Miss McConaghy traveled together on the Leviathan, staying in a stateroom. The trip home was very pleasant with good food, calm waters and movies every night. They landed in Hoboken, NJ on April 2, a “beautiful sunshiny day. We were escorted in by a committee which came quite a way out to meet us. A band played, and it did sound good.” They were taken to a hospital for examination and ordered to bed, although Jennie “was OK next day”.

“Some wealthy ladies of the city sent their limousines up to the hospital to take us for rides through Central Park. A stop was made at St. John the Divine Cathedral which we went through… It really is beautiful, something like the cathedrals in France, but much newer and it does not smell musky”. They were then taken to the home of Mrs. Hurd where they were served a “wonderful luncheon. We actually sat and looked in amazement at the pretty table, decorated with a large bouquet of pink rosebuds in the center with four pink candles in silver candlesticks…. I had two helpings of the best chicken salad and very good hot sandwiches, four or five different kinds of cakes, three or four kinds of cookies and candies, plus olives and celery in ice, and tea and coffee with real fresh cream. Some of the girls had just landed that day after being in France for over twenty months. It actually seemed more like a dream or a fairy tale after seeing and going through what most of us had in France. The ladies were perfectly lovely to us and seemed to enjoy it almost as much as we did. I do not think they can realize how much it meant to us.” While in New York, Jennie was also thrilled to meet the mother and sister-in-law of one of the patients she’d care for in France.

“April 6 – At last the day has come to start homeward”. She took a train home accompanied by some of the other nurses along the way. Jennie arrived in Bellingham at 4:20 am on April 11. “staid [sic] on sleeper until 6 am. Called a taxi and went home.”

After Jennie married Adolph in 1924, they had a son Robert, who was my father. While my grandmother died when I was very young, I know my father was always very proud that she had served in World War I with BH#50, and her war papers and diary have been kept in the family and handed down. I recently visited the cemetery in Nooksack where she is buried and listed as a veteran of World War I.

-- Mary E. Burman

Thursday, July 14, 2016

William Carlyle Kantner, M.D. (1884-1918)

William Carlyle Kantner
4 Nov 1884 - 18 Sep 1918

Early on the morning of September 18 Lieut. Kantner died very suddenly of heart trouble. This was a great shock to all of us, as the end came very suddenly and most unexpectedly. The following day we had another shock, when Ed. Nesser died after a brief illness. This was the third death in less than two weeks, and everyone was beginning to get a little worried. It was the overwork that caused the weakened condition of the men and made them susceptible to the different diseases.

The above quote from The History of Base Hospital Fifty provides some insight into the intense work conditions at the hospital during the final months of the Great War.1 William Kantner was the only member of the medical staff to die in service and yet was one of the youngest physicians in the unit.

William Carlyle Kantner was born on November 4, 1884, in Terre Hill in Pennsylvania's Lancaster County.  His father, William Calvin Kantner, was a Congregational minister and his work took the family -- including his mother, Anna Susan White, and siblings; Clifford, LaBlanche, Anna LaVerne, Penryn and Constance -- across the United States from Oregon to Pennsylvania and back again. 

Kantner grew up in Salem, Oregon, and graduated from Salem High School. He received his medical degree from Willamette University's Medical Department in 1907 and then completed an internship at Minor Hospital in Seattle.2 Afterwards he opened a private practice which was well established at the time he went overseas.

He also served as a member of the medical staff for the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition's Emergency Hospital in 1909. Dr. Edmund Rininger was the medical director and other staff included Dr. Mark McKinney and nurses Bertha F. Wiese and Mary Ethel Anderson.3

Kantner entered the Army with the rank of First Lieutenant with Base Hospital 50 on May 1, 1918. Together with other members of the unit, Kantner traveled from Seattle to Camp Kearny, near San Diego, and onto Camp Fremont, near Palo Alto, before leaving for France. He died of angina pectoris or heart failure at Mesves, France, 15 Sep 1918, exhausted after performing nine surgeries the previous day. He worked "strenuously, operating quickly and as continuously as human endurance would permit."4 

In a letter of condolence from Dr. Eagleson, Base Hospital 50's medical director, he recounts Dr. Kantner had been in his usual good health, "full of fun and jokes"and goes on to say "we think his death was very sudden and was caused by a hardening of the arteries of the heart muscle. Eagleson described the funeral and how the French people brought offerings of flowers so numerous "the casket was covered over." An accompanying letter from the medical staff recalled Kantner's "thoughts were constantly of home" and that he had recently "purchased a little French apron which he hoped to send to his daughter for her birthday present."5

The Seattle Times (Seattle, Washington),
 7 October 1918, pg. 3.
William Kantner was survived by his wife, Nell Constance Thompson. The young couple were married by his father at his wife's family home at 1531 Rucker, in Everett. The wedding took place on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 1913. Nell was a graduate of the University of Washington and a member of Chi Omega sorority. They were the parents of one daughter, Helen Constance. 

Following her husband's death, Nell returned to the University of Washington to earn two master's degrees and had a long career as a teacher, a principal, and eventually was appointed the Director of Vocational Education for the State of Washington. Nell never remarried and, as a Gold Star widow, accompanied Washington State's Gold Star Mother Pilgrimage contingent to Europe to visit her husband's burial site at St. Mihiel American Cemetery, located near the site of the hospital where he worked tirelessly to save the lives of so many others.

  1. United States. Army. Base Hospital No. 50. The history of Base Hospital Fifty : a portrayal of the work done by this unit while serving in the United States and with the American Expeditionary Forces in France. Seattle, Wash. : The Committee, 1922. 
  2. Pastor's Son Dies in France: Lieutenant William C. Kantner Succumbs to Heart Failure Abroad. The Oregon Statesman (Salem, Oregon), 8 October 1918, pg. 3.
  3. Health, Medicine and the AYPE Old Times. Museum of History and Industry.
  4. Base Hospital 50 Honors Its Dead: Lieutenant Kantner and Four Enlisted Men Gave Lives in Nation's Service. Seattle Post-Intelliencer. no date.
  5. Dr. Kantner is Mourned: Letters from Major and Medical Staff Received by Soldier's Wife. The Oregon Statesman (Salem, Oregon) Sunday, December 1918, pg 3.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

James Beaty Eagleson, M.D. (1862-1928)

 University of Washington Libraries,
Special Collections SEA1242
The name Eagleson invokes the iconic post-fire image of the makeshift office of Doctors Eagleson and Smith, Physicians and Surgeons hastily reopened in a tent -- at Third and Columbia Streets -- in the aftermath of the Great Seattle Fire of 1889.

Considered to be one of the most distinguished physicians in Seattle history, Dr. Eagleson's legacy extends far beyond that moment in history. Among his many career achievements was serving as the medical director of the University of Washington's Base Hospital 50.

Born in Chillicothe, Ohio, on August 30, 1862, James Beaty Eagleson’s parents steered him towards a career as a minister. His father, William Eagleson, was a native of County Antrim, Ireland, and his mother, Elizabeth Hodsden, hailed from Ohio. James Eagleson received his early education in Chillicothe and taught school for several years.

A desire for higher education led him to begin studying medicine in 1881, under the mentorship of Dr. David H. Scott. He graduated from Chicago’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1885 and practiced as an intern for a year at the U.S. Marine Hospital in Chicago.

Writing in his journal on Friday, August 20, 1886, Eagleson noted: "I received my order to go to Port Townsend today" fulfilling his dream of being posted to the Pacific Northwest. He was just shy of his 24th birthday. By August, 1887, he had received his official appointment as Acting Assistant Surgeon, Marine Hospital Service, with a yearly salary of $600 and a letter from the Surgeon General to proceed to Seattle to establish the station there.

Dr. Eagleson’s work later led him to Providence and Grace Hospitals, to contract for medical treatment of seamen under the Marine Hospital Service, and a partnership with Dr. Thomas T. Minor. A later partnership was formed with Dr. Lewis R. Dawson. He sought additional training to extend his knowledge of surgery and in September, 1892, traveled to Europe to visit the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and the hospitals of London. He was the first Seattle physician to specialize in and limit his practice to surgery. As a surgeon, he was noted for his accurate diagnoses and his conservative approach to operating.

Dr. Eagleson was actively involved in area medical societies and contributed regularly to medical journals. In 1889, he was one of the incorporators of the Washington State Medical Association. An early proponent of germ theory, he brought the topic to the attention of local physicians in 1890 with the publication of a paper entitled “Are Germs the Cause or the Result of Disease?”

He served consecutive terms as President of the King County Medical Society in 1892 and 1893, an organization of which he was also a charter member. A driver behind the publication of Northwest Medicine, Eagleson served as the journal’s business manager in its nascent stages.

Eagleson was also a member of the Army reserve. When it became clear the United States would enter the First World War he was asked to form a base hospital unit. Base Hospital Number 50, the subject of this blog, did noteworthy service in France and Eagleson was made a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor in recognition of the unit’s work.

Following the war, he was active in the formation of the American College of Surgeons and served as a member of its Board of Regents until his death. In addition to his medical endeavors, he was involved in church work and the YMCA throughout his life. Well-read beyond medicine, he established a Chautauqua reading group in Port Townsend and his diary references Shakespeare, Milton, Tennyson, Dickens, and the Bible.

James Beaty Eagleson was married in Seattle on July 1, 1889, to Clara Blanche Mills, a native of Michigan, and they were the parents of four children: James Mills, Margaret Elliott, Helen Elizabeth and Jean Mills Eagleson. Dr. Eagleson died unexpectedly on January 26, 1928, and is buried at Seattle's pioneer Lake View Cemetery.

Dr. Eagleson was a highly respected physician, surgeon, religious and civic leader. He worked tirelessly to build a better community and exemplified his own prescient words recorded in his diary in 1884, “If we improve upon our mistakes of the past, we make our future more perfect.”

  1. Hines, Rev. H. K., D.D. An Illustrated History of the State of Washington, by Rev. The Lewis Publishing Co., Chicago, IL., 1893, page 488. Submitted to the Washington Biographies Project by Jeffrey L. Elmer, October 2003.
  2. The alumni record of the University of Illinois, Chicago departments. College of Medicine Alumni, Class of 1885, pg. 6. 
  3. King County Medical Society Bulletin, November/December 2013, pg. 8.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Matilda "Tillie" Sophie Rasmussen, RN, ANC, 1890-1945

Image Credit: Registered Nurse Licensing File
Washington State Digital Archives
Matilda “Tillie” Sophie Rasmussen was born on Oct. 4, 1890, to Hans Peter Rasmussen and Julia Gunderson.  Census records indicate she was born in Wisconsin, the exact city is unknown. Matilda was the couple’s second child, joining older sister Estella who was born in August, 1887. Three more siblings joined the family before the 1900 census; Alma born February, 1893, Nels born November, 1894, and Laura born in January, 1897. Records found for Nels and Laura indicate the family was living in Colby, Clark County, Wisconsin during the 1890s. This provides one clue as to where in Wisconsin Matilda may have been born.

The family uprooted from their home in Wisconsin in the late 1890s and replanted in the small town of Kent, Washington. Kent was incorporated as city in King County in May of 1890 and had prospered thanks to the success of growing hops. By the time the Rasmussen family arrived in Kent, an aphid outbreak had destroyed nearly all of the hop yield and the town had turned to other crops. Hans Peter found work as a blacksmith in Kent and the older children, including Matilda, attended school in the city. On July 24, 1900, daughter Helen Corinne was welcomed into the family.

After attending school, Matilda enrolled in the Minor Hospital nurse training school in Seattle. Three years later in May of 1913, she was one of ten nurses who graduated from the program. A few days after graduating, she applied and was approved as a registered nurse in the state of Washington.

In April of 1914, Matilda took a position at St. Anne’s Hospital in Juneau, Alaska. Records could not be found for how long this position was held. She enlisted as a nurse in World War I, however the exact date of her enlistment was not found. By July 1918, she was serving at the U.S. Army Base Hospital in Rockford, Illinois. In late 1918, she was sent overseas to serve at Base Hospital 50 in France.

Following the war, Tillie returned home to Kent, Washington. She found work as a nurse and lived with her parents.  Her mother passed away on January 16, 1926, and her father passed a few months later on April 18. Matilda continued to live in the family home at 711 Meeker St. E in Kent. She left nursing and found a career as a ladies hairdresser.

In 1930, tragedy struck when Helen’s husband, Kenneth Cahail, died when his work truck collided with an automobile in Seattle. Helen was left to raise their two young sons; Kenneth Jr and Joseph.   Seattle City Directories show the family living at a home in Seattle until 1931 when Helen and her sons are absent from the directory. It is likely that Helen moved back to Kent to be closer to the rest of the family.

According to cemetery records, tragedy struck the Cahail family again when Helen passed away sometime around 1940. No death record or obituary could be found to provide details on her death. She was buried next to her husband in Hillcrest Burial Park in Kent, Washington. Kenneth Jr. and Joseph are found living with their aunt Tillie in the 1940 census. It is unknown if the boys moved in after Helen’s death or if they had been living in the Rasmussen family home since the death of their father.

Just five short years later, on April 1, 1945, Matilda “Tillie” passed away in Kenmore, Washington. She is buried next to her sister Helen at Hillcrest Burial Park in Kent.

  1. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004. Census Place: Kent, King, Washington; Roll: 1744; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 0076
  2. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2006. Year: 1910; Census Place: Meeker, King, Washington; Roll: T624_1657; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 0043
  3. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Year: 1920; Census Place: Kent, King, Washington; Roll: T625_1924; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 44
  4. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2002. Year: 1930; Census Place: Kent, King, Washington; Roll: 2490; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 0306; Image:384.0
  5. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012. Year: 1940; Census Place: Meridian, King, Washington; Roll: T627_4345; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 17-134
  6. Washington, Select Death Certificates, 1907-1960 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014. 
  7. Helen Corinne Rasmussen Cahail. Memorial #117483434. Find A Grave. 
  8. “History of Kent.” Kent Historical Museum .
  9. Laura Merriam Rasmussen (Baptism). U.S., Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Records, 1875-1940 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015.
  10. Matilda Sophie Rasmussen, Department of Licensing, Business and Professions Division, Registered Nurses Licensing Files, 1909-1917, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives,
  11. Matilda Sophie Rasmussen. Memorial # 120362380. Find A Grave. 
  12. “Minor Hospital Will Graduate Ten Nurses” Seattle Times. May 30, 1913 Pg. 11
  13. Nels Arthur Rasmussen. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005. 
  14. “Nursing News and Announcements”. (1918). The American Journal of Nursing, 18(12), 1183-1205. Retrieved from
  15. "Nursing News and Announcements." The American Journal of Nursing 18, no. 10 (1918): 899-932.
  16. “Personal and News Items: King County, Washington”  The Pacific Coast Journal of Nursing. Vol. X No. 4 April 1914. Pg. 188
  17. Seattle City Directories: 1925-1931. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.
  18. ‘Truck Driver Dies in Crash.’ The Seattle Times. October 3, 1930. Pg. 7, Column 2

Friday, June 3, 2016

Huldah Agnes Cooke, RN, ANC, 1892-1973

On January 31, 1892 Huldah Agnes was welcomed as the first child of Philetus George and Mary Cooke of Goshen, Whatcom County, Washington.  Goshen was a small town about 11 miles northeast of Bellingham. Philetus was the first county surveyor for Whatcom County and was responsible for laying out several of the arterial highways leading into Bellingham. Two brothers would join Huldah by 1900; Clay Charles born on October 17, 1893 and Philetus Jr. born on June 20, 1898. 

After graduating from Bellingham High School, Huldah began her training to become a nurse at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Bellingham.  She finished her training in October 1914 and became a registered nurse in the state of Washington.   The photo at right is from her Application for Certificate as Registered Nurse. 

All three of the Cooke children enlisted in World War I.  Clay entered first on July 27, 1917; followed by Huldah on November 28, 1917; and then Philetus on October 7, 1918 .

Huldah first served at Camp Kearny in California before heading overseas to Base Hospital 50.  She would spend a year overseas in France with time also spent at Evacuation Hospital No. 31, and Base Hospital No. 208.  She was discharged from service on September 6, 1919.  

By the 1920 census, Huldah and her brother Philetus Jr. were back living with their parents in Lawrence, a township just outside of Bellingham. Huldah continued her nursing career and her brother Philetus begun studies at the University of Washington (UW). Her brother Clay married shortly after returning from the war and spent a few years in Kodiak, Alaska where both he and his wife worked as school teachers before returning to live in Bellingham. 

Huldah would follow in Philetus Jr’s footsteps and began studies at UW around 1923.  She went on to earn a B.S. from the school in either 1924 or 1925.  After obtaining her degree, Huldah found work in Bellingham as an instructor.  In 1926, she accepted an assistant professor of Home Economics position at the Colorado Agriculture College in Fort Collins, Colorado. She taught courses on   Elementary Nursing, Dietary Calculations and Meal Service, Introduction to Home Economics,   House Management and House Sanitation, Home Hygiene and Home Care of the Sick, Dietary Studies, Home Practice, and Home Management.  The picture below was taken of Huldah during her time at the college.

Image credit: University Historic Photograph Collection,
Colorado State University, Archives & Special Collections
After almost ten years, Huldah left her position in Colorado and returned home. She enrolled again at the University of Washington and obtained her certificate in Public Health Nursing in 1937.

Shortly after obtaining her certificate, Huldah moved to Portland, Oregon where she found a job as a school nurse.   She did not stay long and by 1941 was back living in Bellingham where she obtained a job at her alma mater Bellingham High School as a school nurse.    She would stay at Bellingham High School for the remainder of her career.  City directories and school yearbooks show she was the 
school’s nurse through around 1956.  

She spent her retired years living in a home overlooking Bellingham Bay.  Huldah Agnes Cooke passed away on February 23, 1973 and is buried in the Cooke family plot at Bayview Cemetery in Bellingham.  

  1. ‘164 Are Given Degrees By U.W.’ The Seattle Daily Times. Tuesday, April 1937. Page 26 
  2. Agnew, M.A. (1925). List of workers in subjects pertaining to agriculture in State agricultural colleges and experiment stations, 1926-1927. Washington, Government Printing Office.
  3. Agnew, M. A. (1925). List of workers in subjects pertaining to agriculture in State agricultural colleges and experiment stations, 1927-1928. Washington, Government Printing Office.
  4. Agnew, M. A. (1925). List of workers in subjects pertaining to agriculture in State agricultural colleges and experiment stations, 1935-1936. Washington, Government Printing Office.
  5. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011. Bellingham, Washington: 1923-1926; 1937-1938; 1941-1960; Fort Collins, Colorado: 1929-1933; Portland, Oregon: 1940 
  6. Bellingham High School. 1908, 1911, 1943-1956. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. 
  7. Clay C. Cooke. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Census Place: Kodiak, Third Judicial District, Alaska Territory; Roll: T625_2031; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 13; Image: 373 
  8. Clay Charles Cooke. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005. 
  9. Huldah A Cooks. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. ; Census Place: Goshen, Whatcom, Washington; Roll: 1753; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 0236. 
  10. Huldah A Cook. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line].Census Place: Goshen, Whatcom, Washington; Roll: T624_1674; Page: 5A; Enumeration District:0348; 
  11. Huldah Cooke. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Census Place: Lawrence, Whatcom, Washington; Roll: T625_1944; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 255; Image: 251. 
  12. Huldah A Cooke. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Census Place: Fort Collins, Larimer, Colorado; Roll: 245; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 0044; Image: 101.0. 
  13. Huldah A Cooke. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Census Place: Portland, Multnomah, Oregon; Roll: T627_3391; Page: 61B; Enumeration District:37-366. 
  14. Huldah Agnes Cooke, App. 762. Department of Licensing, Business and Professions Division: Registered Nurses Licensing Files, 1909-1917. Washington State Archives, Digital Archives.
  15. Huldah A Cooke. Washington State Death Records. Washington State Archives, Digital Archives.
  16. Jacobin, L., & Pershing, J. J. (1921). With the colors, from Whatcom, Skagit and San Juan counties: an honor roll containing a pictorial record of the gallant and courageous men from northwestern Washington, U.S.A., who served in the world war, 1917-1918-1919. Seattle, Wash, Press of Peters Pub.
  17. Lopez-Terrill, Vicki. Librarian. Colorado State University Morgan Library. 'Huldah Cooke, Professor In 1920S/1930s'. June 1, 2016. E-mail. 
  18. Philetus George Cooke Jr. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005. 
  19. Tyee. University of Washington. 1923-1925. University of Washington Yearbooks and Documents. University of Washington Libraries.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Seattle Girls War Relief Bazaar

Museum of History and Industry
"Biggest thing that ever happened to Seattle"1

That bold claim was published in response to the success of the Seattle Girls War Relief Bazaar, organized to raise the necessary funds to outfit Base Hospital 50.

The telegram Dr. Eagleson received in late October 1917 authorizing Base Hospital 50 also included the news Seattle was not only responsible for organizing the unit, but funding it. The equipment was to be "up to date in every respect.""Society maids and self-supporting office workers and clerks" worked together to plan the bazaar which was the brainchild of Seattle shipping magnate Frank Waterhouse.3

Held the week before Christmas, the Seattle Girls' War Work Association, chaired by Miss Gladys Waterhouse and Miss Katherine Kittinger, organized the bazaar. Volunteers solicited goods and services from Seattle leaders and businesses — everything from cigars to Ford cars — to sell at the bazaar. More than 12,500 volunteers  from University of Washington sorority sisters, to Dames of the Daughters of the American Revolution  worked together to arrange all the details for the event which would attract over 10,000 Seattleites a day.

Library of Congress
The bazaar was designed and constructed by venerable Seattle architect Carl F. Gould and described as "cleverly conceived and well executed." Miss Irene Ewing was credited with arranging decorations deserving of "particular attention."The bazaar was held at the Seattle Arena and Hippodrome. Neither are still standing.

A jewelry drive was also held and "debutantes and working girls united in the bonds of Sammies Sisterhood" donated their gold and silver to be sold to help fund the war effort.5 The Moran Brothers, local shipbuilders, made a major donation of $16,000, and Waterhouse donated $10,000.

Come Thru, an original composition by Bertha Sophie Tremper, was adopted as the official song of the bazaar. Printed by Seattle's Craig Music Press, copies sold at the bazaar for fifteen cents. "Every miser helps the Kaiser" was a catchy refrain taken from the song billed as great for fairs and bazaars for its melodious rhythm.6  Miss Anita Miller won first prize in a contest for the best poster to advertise the Bazaar.7

When all the proceeds had been tallied, the bazaar had raised over $110,000 dollars. Fifty thousand dollars was turned over to the Seattle Chapter of the Red Cross to equip Base Hospital 50 and the remainder was designated to support dependents of soldiers and sailors from King and Kitsap counties.

  1. News-letters to boys in France. Pacific Builder and Engineer. January 25, 1918. Vol. 24, pg. 13.
  2. University Base Hospital. Northwest Medicine. December 1917. Vol. 16(12):381.
  3. Seattle Working Girls Plan Meeting War Relief Bazaar. The Eugene Guard. September 29, 1917, pg. 2.
  4. News-letters to boys in France. Pacific Builder and Engineer. January 25, 1918. Vol. 24, pg. 13.
  5. Seattle Girls Give Up Jewels, The Spokesman-Review. November 23, 1917, pg. 15.
  6. "Come Thru". Music and Musicians: Devoted Principally to the Interests of the Northwest. Vol. 3(12), 1918, pg. 10.
  7. Poster Helps to Win Big Fund for Red Cross. The Poster. 1918. Vol. 9, pg 52.

Sunday, May 22, 2016


The United States entered the Great War -- now known as World War I -- on April 6, 1917. Physicians and hospitals around the country had already been organizing in anticipation President Woodrow Wilson would not be able to holdout against entering the war much longer after his election to a second term in November of 1916.

The American Red Cross, whose relief efforts would become almost synonymous with the war, was just a nascent organization in 1917. Formed in 1881, by 1914 the Red Cross had just 107 local chapters. That number leapt to 3,864 by 1918. Membership grew from 17,000 to over 20 million adults and 11 million junior members in that time.

In the early years of the war the Red Cross worked to raise capital, recruit new personnel, nurses, and medical professionals, and gather medical supplies and other necessary treatments, with limited success since few American lives were at stake. America's entry into the war changed everything and plans already under consideration were quickly called into action.

The Seattle Star, 29 Oct 1917, pg. 2.
The creation of base hospitals to serve overseas as part of the US Army was a large scale endeavor. Hospitals and universities around the country applied for authorization to form a unit. Dr. James Beaty Eagleson, of Seattle, was one of the many physicians who responded to the call and together with the support of the local Red Cross chapter and University of Washington (UW) President Henry Suzzallo, applied for authorization to form a hospital for the purpose of serving overseas.

In some respects the UW was an unlikely candidate. The university did not even have a medical school or nursing program and Seattle was far-removed from major centers of cutting edge medicine and teaching. The response from the Red Cross was formation was dependent on the Seattle's ability to raise $50,000 to outfit the hospital. The city was very successful in their fund-raising efforts and on October 25, 1917, Dr. Eagleson -- already a Major in the Medical Reserve Corps -- received a telegram confirming his appointment as "director of Red Cross Base Hospital No. 50, University of Washington".

In anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the United States' entry into the war and the centennial of war's end, November 11, 2017, this blog will tell the story of the hospital, its personnel and their experiences from its earliest days to the unit's return in 1919 in the midst the Spanish Flu pandemic. Please join us as we follow in the footsteps of Dr. Eagleson and the men and women who serviced in Base Hospital 50.