October 21, 2017

Death On The Tracks: 1903 Bordeaux Washington

Death On The Tracks: 1903 Bordeaux WA

It was an unseasonably warm spring day in April. Blanch Philby, a mother of two toddlers was on her way to the mill to meet her husband Charles who had just been paid that day. She intended to get his paycheck and then go on to the company store where she planned on buying some things for her baby that was soon to be due.

As was most of the homes in the town, Blanch’s house was perched on the hillside making it necessary for her to go down a flight of wooden steps, cross the railroad tracks and then on to the mill.

She got as far as the tracks when she was distracted by a yell from her friend who wanted her to pick up something at the store for her. “A lone engine operated by a fireman blasted around the bend from behind her.”

Glen Whipple had the sorrowful task of picking up what was left of Charles Philby’s wife and unborn child. [Source: The Tacoma News Tribune and Sunday Ledger – 05 October 1969; from an original story for the Tribune by Jeanne D. (Mrs. W. Ken) Adams, an Olympia, WA area freelance writer.]

As you can imagine, a mill town was a very noisy place to live with big saws running, men shouting, railroad engines and other vehicles all in operation at the same time.

Looking at the 1900 Federal Census District #224 for Littlerock, Thurston, WA we find “Charley” age 25, and Blanch, age 15, Philby (no children) residing in their own home. A few residences away is another Philby family, but there is no way to tell if this is a family connection. The head of household in that family was Amos Philby, age 55, so it’s possible he is the father of Charles/Charley Philby. In 1900 Charley was working as a “timber faller” for a logging company. [Source: Ancestry.com]

Further research in the Washington State Archives Digital Records resulted in a different date for Blanch’s death: 1903. Her grave is in the Odd Fellows Cemetery, Thurston (Tumwater, WA). FindAGrave lists her memorial as Memorial# 38299156 and her date of death is also 1903 there as well.


© Carol Yates Wilkerson 2012





52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History – Weather

It was a dark and stormy night… but I’m going to cheat a little bit for this week’s blogging prompt for 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History – Weather and do a link to a previous post I did on Disasters which included my recollection of the Columbus Day Storm when I was in junior high school.

[intlink id=”2131″ type=”post”]iPentimento | 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History – Disasters[/intlink]

Week 18. Weather. Do you have any memorable weather memories from your childhood? How did your family cope and pass the time with adverse weather? When faced with bad weather in the present day, what do you do when you’re stuck at home?

This challenge runs from Saturday, April 30, 2011 through Friday, May 6, 2011.

Amy Coffin of the We Tree blog (http://wetree.blogspot.com/) has yet another successful series on her hands: 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History (http://www.geneabloggers.com/52-weeks-personal-genealogy-history/).

iPentimento | 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History – Disasters


Seattle earthquake aftermath 1965

I barely missed my first disaster by a year.  That was the 1949 earthquake here in western Washington.  Well, maybe I didn’t miss it completely since my mom was probably pregnant with me at the time.  Since I was conceived most likely in January of 1950 and the state was experiencing …

Record low temperatures and heavy snow plague Washington state for three weeks beginning on January 12, 1950.

…it was probably a good time to stay in bed and keep warm, don’t you think?

I don’t know if they were ‘disasters’ or not, but I remember we had some pretty deep snows when I was in grade school.  Deep enough that I was worried I’d get in over my head. Hey, I was a little girl and not so tall you know!


1965 Tacoma/Seattle Earthquake

OK, let’s get to it and I’ll tell you the first real disaster I experienced.  It was the earthquake of 1965 which was coincidentally 6.5 MAG.  I was in study hall in the lunch room at Tumwater High School when it began.  It happened that I was sitting on the last row of tables at the back of the room nearest the large plate glass windows.  None of the windows broke, but it was in the middle of the tremor that a huge plaster art piece fell off the wall above the folding curtain and crashed to the floor jangling already shaky nerves.

I got my first lesson in the ‘herd instinct’ that day too. Mr. Zahn, our study hall teacher had never been in an earthquake (he said later) and so when the shaking was all over he walked out in the hallway to head to the office.  He just didn’t count on a whole herd of us following him!  He shooed us all back to the hallway by the lunchroom and then went off again to the office.  I learned something else about myself that day.  As scared and shaky as I was after the quake, I remember some girls were almost hysterical and I was comforting one of them, telling her not to cry.  I probably fell apart later.  That’s my usual reaction.


Tornadoes, More Quakes, and Storms

I’m not putting all of these disaster recollections in chronological order, so bear with me here.  Before the quake of 1965, there was a killer wind storm we lived through too.  It was named the Columbus Day Storm of 1963, and it was a whopper.   I was in 8th grade at the time and I remember getting out of school that afternoon and coming down the steps of the back door of Michael T. Simmons Junior High in Tumwater and thinking it was unusually windy.  I had no idea of what was to come…

My brother and I got home from school that Friday and Mom had already been alerted by the radio that there was a storm coming.  None of us would know just how wild that night was going to be.  Our heat source at the time was an old Quaker oil stove.  It had a damper on the side of the vent pipe that went into the chimney and on normal days that thing would flap now and then as it opened and closed when the wind blew across the top of the chimney.  When the winds got up to gale force that night that thing really got a workout.  Morning brought a whole new world of surprises.  Our power pole at the end of our driveway had blown down, as had two others in line with it, just like dominoes.  The power had been out for hours and the power lines laying across our yard were being held up off the ground by our telephone wire. We lost trees, and probably some of the shakes off the roof, but our biggest catastrophe was that we were without power for three weeks because of those poles that were knocked down.

In 1973 we were living in Clinton, Iowa and I was just learning what it was like to live in tornado country.  Luckily, the house we were renting had a basement because every time the wind would come up and the tornado sirens went off, I grabbed Greg and cowered down there until the coast was clear.  Jim happened to be home during one storm, which was fortunate because it was the worst one I’d been in yet.  The radar said there were funnel clouds sighted north of us and we headed to the basement.  When it was over we headed outside to assess the damages and the ground was just white with hail. Our chimney had blown off and I think there was a bird that mistakenly had flown down into it to get out of the wind. We heard some flapping around when we were in the basement, but didn’t figure out what it was until days later.  There was a cleanout in the basement for the bottom of the chimney with a little door.  When Jim opened the door there was the poor little dead wayward bird.

And last, but not least, the most recent disaster was our February earthquake of 2001 that registered 6.8 MAG.  I was in the family room, as was the cat, and when the house started shaking, I was running out of the room and he was running in.  We just about collided at the doorway into the room.  I wanted to be at the other end of the house, away from the hot water heater in the garage and the fireplace chimney that could possibly fall into the living room or family room.  What was weird was, this earthquake lasted a really long time.  I’d made my dash down the hallway and was standing in a doorway watching the two pictures over the fireplace dancing wildly back and forth and the house just kept on rockin’.  When it did, my phone rang and it was our son Greg in California.  He asked if I was OK, and said he had been on the phone with a client in Seattle when the quake started and she told him she had to get under her desk.  They hung up and he called me right away.


Columbus Day windstorm disaster blows Olympic Peninsula and Puget Sound on October 12, 1962.

HistoryLink.org Essay 5325 – by By David Wilma, February 28, 2003


52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History

Week 10: Disasters. Did you experience any natural disasters in your lifetime? Tell us about them. If not, then discuss these events that happened to parents, grandparents or others in your family.

This challenge runs from Saturday, March 5, 2011 through Friday, March 11, 2011.

Amy Coffin of the We Tree blog (http://wetree.blogspot.com/) is the originator of the challenge.  Thanks also to Thomas MacEntee for further promoting it.  We’re all Geneabloggers.



52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History – Radio & Television

There wasn’t much to do in the fall and winter months where I grew up here in western Washington, so we watched a lot of TV. My viewing kind of evolved as television itself did, with local stations airing shows like Brakeman Bill, Captain Puget, J P Patches.


Kinsey Photo #14 – Big Timber Company
Hoquiam, WA – Steam Engines
(sorry for the flash flare; this photo hangs on the wall in our family room)

That was the after school fare from the time I was in grade school up until I was too cool in junior high to admit I watched them.  I have to admit, I really liked the Brakeman Bill show because I loved Crazy Donkey. And, if you don’t get the gist of the theme for these shows, they all had to do with local occupations or a spoof on them.  So, Brakeman Bill’s name was obvious because they used a lot of trains here in this area to haul the Douglas fir logs to market.  Although they aren’t shown in the photo above, locals know that they used “donkey engines” in the smaller yards.  But I digress.

I don’t think there was ever a time that we didn’t have a radio in our house or even in the various cars my dad owned.  Mom and Dad always listened to the radio in the morning to hear the latest weather, traffic reports and commentary. They almost always listened to KGY, the local Olympia station. Mom liked to tune in to the questions and then call in with the answer.  We started calling her the “Yatesonian”.  Keep in mind, this was all before computers!

Back to TV…I was an rabid avid Disney watcher and it was mandatory (to me) that we watch The Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday nights.  It began in 1954, so I would have been about four years old. It was pretty much the diet of TV that I was allowed to watch when I was that age and on through grade school.  I loved the show and the stories that always turned out with a happy ending.  It came as a great blow to me when I was old enough to watch movies and found out that life didn’t always have happy endings.  I remember saying to my Mom one time that I “hated” some character.  Her reply stayed with me then and to this day… “That means he’s a good actor then!”.


Macabre and Marvelous

Once I got over the idea that life was wonderful 😉 I began watching shows like the Alfred Hitchcock Hour and Twilight Zone. Talk about skewing your thought processes!  Does anyone remember the Hitchcock episode of Where the Woodbine Twineth?  One of my favorites, perhaps because it was about an evil little girl.


The Rock and Roll Era

Last, but not least, came the radio and my teen years.  I remember how mad my mom was when I cut a notch in the dial on her radio so I could easily get to KJR, the local rock and roll station.  I don’t think she agreed with my reasoning.  Hrmph!  Larry Lujack was the favorite DJ of the day, along with Pat O’Day.  We also had an FM station too, if I remember correctly.  When KJR was playing a song we didn’t like we’d push a button and switch to KOL.  Pretty much non-stop music all day and night.  Good for cruising through Oly. Up 4th and down State…all night long.  Of course, in those days gas was about 35 ¢ a gallon.

Thanks to Amy Coffin at WeTree Blog for her 52 weeks of genealogy topics inspiration, and to Thomas MacEntee for promoting it on Facebook.  Are you participating in this challenge?  I’ll be checking the links on Facebook at 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy – Radio and TV




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